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.
- The South West Umpires Association has lodged a complaint after a South Bunbury supporter allegedly made sexist comments to a female umpire
- The South West Football League president says the supporter must come forward and apologise.
- The latest complaint follows the resignation of South Bunbury’s women’s team amid concerns over alleged sexism and racism
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.
It is alleged the man’s comment was followed by laughter from other supporters.
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.
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.
South Bunbury women’s coach Maxwell Jetta, who is a Noongar man and cousin of former AFL players Lewis and Neville Jetta, quit after the incident, saying he was disappointed with how his club dealt with it.
Several further incidents led to the whole female team quitting.
The report and recommendations that followed the investigation have yet to fully be made public, but included a recommendation more female and Indigenous leadership at the club and league level.
Mr Tate said it was time South Bunbury leaders did something about the club’s culture.
“It is really disappointing from our side that this keeps coming up,” he said.
“We need South Bunbury to take control of their club and make sure they have a good culture.”
He said the incidents were a distraction for an exciting competition.
“We’ve got three rounds to go before our finals and we’ve got four sides that possibly could win the grand final which is which is fantastic,” he said.
“But this is just putting a dampener on what we’re trying to achieve.
“We want excitement, and not to tolerate this sort of behaviour.”