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Embattled WA footy club in spotlight again after alleged sexist comment towards umpire

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An embattled Western Australian football club has been ordered to pay up or identify a man who made a sexist comment to a female umpire, just months after its entire women’s team resigned over allegations of sexist and racist behaviour.

An onlooker sitting in the members’ area of the South Bunbury Football Club on Sunday allegedly hurled sexist verbal abuse at a female boundary umpire during a men’s game against Donnybrook Football Club.

The umpire left the field after the remarks, causing the game to stop. 

The South West Umpires Association then made a formal complaint to the league, which called for the man to come forward and make an in-person apology. 

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It is alleged the man’s comment was followed by laughter from other supporters. 

The league agrees the man should come forward and apologise.(ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)

South West Football League president Barry Tate said the behaviour was unacceptable. 

“This is absolutely shocking for this individual,” he said. 

“She just didn’t want to be there. This is the first time we’ve ever had this.

“She’s a lovely girl, she’s done this umpiring for quite a while and no umpire needs to put up with this in any nature.” 

Mr Tate said South Bunbury’s club president met with the umpire after the game and apologised. 

Own up or face a fine

South Bunbury has been given a deadline of Wednesday evening to identify the person who made the remarks or face a maximum penalty of $1,000. 

The club has also been told to provide security for umpires at the next home game. 

A group of women huddle together on a footy field
The women’s team quit after being sanctioned by their club for warming up in sponsor-less black shirts to ‘”stand against racism”.(ABC South West: Sam Bold)

Mr Tate said the sanctions acted as a message to all clubs to make sure umpires were respected. 

“This type of behaviour won’t be tolerated,” he said.

“We do struggle to get umpires and this doesn’t help the cause.

“There’s no game without umpires, so you’ve got to start standing up and recognising that these people are part of what we do.”

‘Control your club’

The incident follows a tumultuous period for the club, which was recently investigated by the WA Football Commission after complaints of sexism and racism. 

It was sparked by an on-field racial vilification incident in May when a player from the South Bunbury Football Club men’s team made a racial slur towards a Noongar man from a rival team.

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