POLICE have launched an investigation after a cup final was abandoned after one of the officials was racially abused by a supporter during the game.
On Sunday, the Steve Tierney Cup Final match between Hartlepool sides Lion Hillcarter and Supporters Athletic was called off during extra-time after one of the linesman was abused from the touchline.
The incident has been reported to Hartlepool Police, l Turn to Page 4
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who have appealed for witnesses and say they are treating it as a “racially aggravated” incident.
Officials from the Durham FA and campaign group Show Racism the Red Card have condemned the abuse as “disgraceful”.
It happened during the second half and the linesman that was targeted asked for the supporter to be removed, which he was, and he wasn’t seen again according to league officials.
The game continued but was eventually abandoned at half time of extra-time, with the scores level at 1-1, as the linesman was too upset to continue.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “The incident has been reported to us and we are investigating it as a racially aggravated incident.
“Anyone with information is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101.”
John Topping, company secretary at the Durham FA, said he has received the match report from referee Mark Walsh and said he has written to the officials including the linesman, both clubs and the league.
They now have seven days to reply with their version of events.
Mr Topping told the Mail: “This sort of behaviour is absolutely disgraceful and it is certainly not something that we tolerate or want to see in our game.
“If we can take any disciplinary action, then we will take the strongest action possible.”
Paul Kearns, deputy chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: “We are encouraged to see that such strong action was taken in abandoning the match.
“It goes to show that racist abuse will not be tolerated in football or in society generally.
“As an organisation, we are committed to educating people to eradicate racism, not just in the game, but in the wider society too.”
John Cooper, secretary of the Hartlepool Sunday Football League, heard the insult and said he was “disgusted” with the racial abuse and said the league does not tolerate that sort of behaviour.
The cup final was being held at Grayfields Recreation Ground and has been rearranged for Sunday, May 19 with a 10.40am kick-off.