Timeline of all actions Hartlepool United have taken to address racism row as they await Football Association verdict
Hartlepool United have been proactive in addressing the issue of racism head on following Saturday’s shocking scenes at Victoria Park.
The Football Association may take action against Pools after opening a disciplinary process following the alleged racist abuse that took place during the 2-0 defeat against Dover Athletic.
They are expected to be in touch with the FA at some point today as they await a verdict regarding a potential punishment.
The club have acted quickly and diligently in an attempt to address the issue with the most significant action being the ‘Love Pools, Hate Racism’ demonstration which has been praised anti-racism bodies Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card as well as the wider football community.
A range of measures have been taken by Pools in an attempt to address the issue, here is a rough timeline of the events...
Saturday – during the match
Immediately after the incident, chief executive Mark Maguire entered the pitch to ensure players that the ‘strongest possible action’ would be taken against those responsible and apologised to the Dover officials.
A PA announcement was made at half-time condemning racism of any kind which was well received by those in attendance.
Saturday – after the match
A public statement was released with Maguire stating: “As a club we will protect the principles held by the vast majority of our fan base who would be insulted by their reputation being tarnished in this manner. In these type of circumstances actions speak louder than words and we will be judged accordingly.
“On days like today, directors, management and staff of both clubs have a responsibility to stand up and be counted, and we have no hesitation in reacting in the strongest possible manner.”
Manager Craig Hignett also echoed the club statement in his post match reaction.
“Racism not only has no part in football but it has no part in life, so if that’s the case then those people must be dealt with and dealt with severely because that’s not us as a football club,” he said.
No players were made available for comment after the Dover match due to the sensitive nature of the issue in hand.
Two individuals had been identified in relation to the event and Cleveland Police later confirmed that a 43-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order. He was released under investigation while inquires continued.
The club’s official social media channels also shared a series of anti-racism messages including tweets from players Nicke Kabamba, Gavan Holohan and life president Jeff Stelling.
Maguire contacted Dover to enquire about the welfare of the club’s players and spoke to Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card to discuss the messages the club would be delivering.
Chairman Raj Singh visited several Pools players to offer his and the club’s personal support.
The club have spoken and co-operated with Cleveland Police and the FA, gathering statements and evidence from CCTV and match camera footage that will be presented as evidence in the ongoing investigation and disciplinary processes.
Maguire spoke with National League chief executive Mike Tattersall to set out the club’s position and course of action.
The Pools chief executive also met with the players to inform them of the clubs actions and provide support.
United striker Kabamba was interviewed by Sky Sports News regarding Saturday’s incident.
“It was a difficult day, things what happened you don’t want to see or be involved in especially when it’s your job,” he said.
“It happened in a moment and then you start thinking the worst. You don’t want to be there and you have to take time and understand why we reacted how and why we did.”
Hartlepool also announced that a ‘Love Pools, Hate Racism’ demonstration would take place prior to Tuesday night’s match against Chesterfield with fans being issued posters.
The issue was also tackled head-on in the matchday programme with the ‘Kick It Out’ logo emblazoned on the cover along with the ‘Love Pools, Hate Racism’ message. An extended and candid interview with Gus Mafuta recounting Saturday’s events was also conducted and published.
“Rather than avoid or gloss over the issue, Mark Simpson [media manager] and I decided we should tackle the issue head on and interview Gus for this issue of the programme, who is brilliantly articulate in describing how he has been affected,” Maguire said in his programme notes.
For the first time since Saturday’s statement, Maguire spoke publicly about the issue on BBC Tees ahead of the Tuesday night match against Chesterfield.
“The message that we’ve been keen on since we made our initial statement on Saturday is that action speaks louder than words,” he said.
“In circumstances like this it’s easy for organisations to come out and make statements after statements which state the obvious essentially which we condemn the disgusting behaviour and we condemn racism but actually it’s about what we do which is how we’ll be judged.”
Ahead of the match, the ‘Love Pools, Hate Racism’ demonstration put out a strong message of unity and condemnation of racism at Victoria Park.
The numerous actions Pools have taken should be lauded and could be considered by the FA when weighing up a potential punishment for the club with their decision expected to be made soon.