Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh hits out with strong comments amid racism controversy

Hartlepool United chairman Raj Singh had some things to get off his chest following recent events at the club.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 16:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 17:13 pm
Hartlepool United Chairman Raj Singh. Picture by FRANK REID

Saturday’s defeat against Dover was marred in controversy as striker Inih Effiong was subject to an alleged racist attack after scoring a penalty at Victoria Park.

Singh – who feels he ‘could write a book’ about the racially aggravated incidents he’s experienced personally – was quick to condemn such behaviour but felt the referee’s handling off the situation left a lot to be desired.

“I have to say that in 40 to 45 years of watching football, that game has to be right up there with the worst in terms of how much the referee had lost control of the overall situation,” he said.

Referee Joe Johnson during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and Dover Athletic at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Saturday 21st September 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Let me make it extremely clear from the outset, any form of racism is totally unacceptable in this day and age.

“As an Asian going to school in Middlesbrough, growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I feel I am well-qualified to make comment on the subject.

“When the Dover player scored the goal he should have gone and celebrated with his teammates and should not have chosen to taunt opposition fans.

“As soon as he started to do that the referee should have been across like a shot to tell the players to move away or threaten them with bookings. Instead, the situation was allowed to escalate and astonishingly the taunting was repeated.

“I am not and will not for one minute try to defend the actions of the few idiots responsible for any racist abuse. However, I am simply saying that players have a job and a responsibility to behave in a certain manner.”

Singh then controversially hinted that the events swayed the referee into making a plethora of questionable calls in the second half.

“I think that the referee had made up his mind during half-time that we were not going to get anything from the game,” he added in his matchday programme notes.

“That proved to be the case when we had three good penalty claims turned down and there were three red cards.

“Some people may disagree with me but it’s all about opinions.”