Calls for Welsh cup final to be postponed until investigation into allegations of serious racist abuse is complete

Allegations of racism emerged following a cup match between STM Sports and Cefn Albion in March. Credit: Michael James

The Football Association of Wales and the police are investigating a prestigious, amateur cup match following serious allegations of racist abuse and one accusation of an assault on a female supporter.

During the semi-final of the FAW Trophy between Cefn Albion and STM Sports last month, two of STM’s players were allegedly targeted with racist comments from opposition supporters.

Hermon Yohanes says he had to put up with constant insults that day. “Towards that end of the first half I was called a n****. I told the referee what was happening, I have never been treated like this before. When we went to the changing rooms at half-time we were surrounded by the Cefn Albion fans who were just throwing abuse at us, I was called a “dirty little n****”.

The experience so upset Yohanes he could not face playing in the club’s next game.

Newtown AFC's ground hosted the cup game between Cefn Albion and STM Sports. Credit: Michael James

The other player allegedly picked out for abuse, Lamin Conteh, says he has never been confronted with anything like it before.

He said: “As soon as they saw me, they said 'there’s the black one'. During the game the fans were shouting abuse towards me calling me a 'f****** n*****'.”

He also said at the end of the game he heard “black c***” shouted several times.

The incident took place at Newtown AFC's ground Latham Park. Credit: PA

Dyfed-Powys police have confirmed to ITV News they were forced to send reinforcements to the match at Newtown AFC and are still investigating what happened. In a statement they told us:

“There was some confrontation between supporters later on, but police quickly gained control and provided a high visibility presence for the remainder of the event. Body worn footage captured by officers is being reviewed to see if any further police action is required.”

STM Sports Nigel Bircham vice-chair. Credit: ITV News

After the match, one of STM Sports female supporters says she was confronted and then assaulted in the ground’s café. A confrontation she says that only ended when the police intervened.

Then, later on in the club’s bar a man was allegedly overheard by a different witness saying “I’d f****** love to have met their number 2 in a dark alley, but then again I probably wouldn’t have seen him.” A statement documenting this incident has been submitted to the FAW.

ITV News understands the FAW’s competitions secretary was actually at the game (which Cefn Albion won after extra-time) so could prove a key witness. The final is due to be played this coming Saturday, 13th April.

In a furious email to senior figures at the Welsh FA, the secretary and vice-chair of STM Sports Nigel Bircham wrote “Can somebody offer me some kind of logical explanation as to why these people are allowed to play in the final of the FAW Trophy after all that happened to us? Intimidation, racial abuse, sexist abuse and abuse in front of children from the ages of five to nine years old. I hope you are all very proud of yourselves. I can only assume from this that you actually condone what happened that day.”

  • Sunil Patel, campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card in Wales

Sunil Patel, campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card in Wales, says the authorities need to react to crackdown on discrimination in the nation.

"First of all, it's crazy, I have to pinch myself to 'are we in 2019 here?' because it's really astonishing to think we're having problems with racism in our society and in football," Patel told ITV News.

"It doesn't necessarily surprise me or us as a charity because we consistently see reports of racism at grassroot levels of football in Wales which come into our office and people contacting us because they need the support or they sometimes have no faith in the system and they are repeatedly at their wit's ends on how to get the support they need.

"We are seeing it more regularly than we have over previous years but I think it will only go one way, unfortunately, the way things are going unless there is some ownership of this problem by the authorities that are looking after the game in Wales."

Cefn Albion say they are aware of the allegations of racist behaviour that have been made about some followers of the Football Club at the FAW Trophy semi-final fixture against STM Sports, which was played at Latham Park, Newtown, on March 16.

A spokesperson for the club said: "These allegations have only come to light in the last few days and, prior to their broadcast this week, the club had not been made aware of any issues of this nature surrounding the game.

"Officers from Dyfed-Powys police were on duty at the match and, at this stage Cefn Albion Football club can confirm that we have not received any direct contact from them, STM Sports, or the FAW regarding the matter.

"We at Cefn Albion Football Club pride ourselves on being ambassadors for our community and on providing a welcoming and friendly environment for players and supporters from all backgrounds.

"As a football club we will not tolerate any behaviour which brings our good name into disrepute and should we receive any evidence that verifies racial abuse took place then we will work with the FAW and the police to act accordingly.

"Until then, the club will be making no further comment on this matter and we look forward to our Cup final occasion this weekend which we are sure will be played and watched in a true sporting spirit."