Fans urged to help trace race abuse supporter
Magennis lodges official complaint
HEARTS fans were last night urged to help police identify the supporter who Kilmarnock striker Josh Magennis has alleged racially abused him at Tynecastle on Saturday.
Magennis, the Northern Ireland internationalist, took the unusual step of making an official complaint to Police Scotland after the Ladbrokes Premiership game at the weekend.
It is believed the 25yearold was targeted by an individual who was seated among the Hearts support in the Wheatfield Stand during a match which the home team won 10.
Hearts issued an official statement immediately after the match revealing the comment made related to the player’s nationality and vowed to assist with the investigation.
David Scott of the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth applauded the decision by Magennis to take action and appealed to Hearts fans to assist police with their investigations.
“I am 100 per cent behind the player,” said Scott. “Everyone has the right to go to their work place without being abused for either their race, religion or background. I am sure the individual responsible expects that when they go in to their work. The football field is a player’s workplace and they should be treated exactly the same as everybody else.
“I am delighted that Hearts have put out a statement distancing themselves from the moron involved and hopefully supporters will work with club officials to identify the individual responsible.
“Somebody who was at the game knows who it is. This is completely unacceptable. This sort of conduct belongs to the dark ages not in the 21st century.”
Scott added: “I hope that supporters respond to this incident in the right manner, I hope Police Scotland take action and I hope PFA Scotland also come out and offer their backing for the player. Supporters can boo players who have had a bad game and can register their disapproval at how a team has performed. But general levels of decency must be observed. You can’t just say: ‘Well, I’ve paid my money I can say whatever I want’.
“He (Magennis) strikes me as an intelligent and levelheaded fellow who wouldn’t take this sort of decision without good reason.”
Ann Budge, the Hearts owner, announced last month that additional finances would be invested in surveillance of supporters following incidents of fighting and verbal abuse both inside and outside Tynecastle.
The Edinburgh club has been ordered to have a police presence at every match at an extra cost of £50,000 as a result of crowd trouble.
They are also the subject of an SPFL investigation after the match delegate at their 32 win over Dundee United reported “excessive verbal abuse” of visiting manager Mixu Paatelainen.
Hearts supporters were also involved in fights with Motherwell fans during and after their 60 league win last month.
Budge, who apologised to Ross County after a supporters’ bus was attacked back in October, has introduced additional stewarding and cameras in certain sections of Tynecastle as a result of the trouble.
She has said: “Allowing a tiny minority of supporters to bring the club’s reputation into disrepute is something we will not tolerate.
“We will be clamping down on supporters who behave unacceptably. This will mean more stringent checks and more surveillance both inside and outside the stadium.”