'Racist' ref is suspended

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 16, 2012

The head of Manchester's Football Association said this week that antisemitic remarks had been "brushed under the carpet" in the past, after the suspension of a top refereeing official for a racist remark about the Holocaust.

On Tuesday, Philip Morris, referee appointments secretary at the Manchester FA, was suspended for two months after allegedly telling a young FA official before a Manchester Jewish Soccer League game: "Tell them to remember the concentration camps if they give you any ****."

The comment was reported by a teenage Jewish official who overheard the remark, made in the changing room of Manchester United's Carrington training ground.

The two young referees, both under 18, gave evidence against Mr Morris, at a disciplinary hearing by a special team of FA officials from London.

He was found guilty of abusive and/or insulting words aggravated by race. The hearing was chaired by the same FA official who dealt with Liverpool FC striker Luis Suarez, banned for eight matches for racist abuse.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "Such a callous reference to concentration camps is clearly an insult to victims and survivors of the Holocaust as well as any decent minded person. The FA have rightly recognised the deep offence caused by these comments."

Manchester FA chief executive Colin Bridgford vowed to eliminate discrimination in his organisation and build stronger relationship with the Manchester Jewish Soccer League (MJSL).

He said: "I was very clear that we would go through due process in dealing with this. But I do believe that this would have previously been brushed under the carpet. I really believe that. But this case shows the commitment we have to dealing with racism.

"The FA and Manchester FA are committed to the development of a programme of ongoing training and awareness events and activities in order to promote the eradication of discrimination within football.

"We are working closely with the MJSL. We've had a lot of support from the Jewish footballing community."

MJSL chairman Brian Myer said: "The FA has followed due process. We have a good relationship with the Manchester FA, and we see no reason to spoil that because of an individual who made a silly comment."

Last updated: 1:36pm, February 16 2012