‘Revolting abuse’ by Aston Villa fans leads to resignations from official supporters’ group

Former executive at the supporters’ trust said he was targeted with antisemitic messages and quit in protest over its ‘silence and lack of support’


Two former executives at the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust have resigned over its public handling of antisemitic abuse allegedly levelled against an ex media liaison officer.
Former membership director Simon Goodyear and ex-inclusivity officer Nigel Canin resigned in solidarity with former trust executive and self-described “Brummie” Jonny Gould. 
Mr Gould alleged he was subjected to a stream of “revolting” Twitter messages and emails from identifiable Aston Villa supporters.
He resigned as director last Friday in protest at what he said was the trust’s “silence and lack of support” throughout his ordeal.
If the trust had publicly condemned the abuse, “they might have been surprised at the support they got from within the Villa community,” he said, adding most fans were “decent.”
“This incident is a stain upon their record, I’m sad to say. Too much silence means I can’t be a director. I can’t be,” Mr Gould said.
Mr Gould, who began supporting Aston Villa in the 1970s aged nine, stressed that the club itself had been “fantastic” and supportive. 
But the Aston Villa fan also said he had “recently sometimes felt my loyalty and identity had been misplaced by this incident.” 
The Aston Villa Supporters Trust said it was “aware of the personal abuse suffered by Jonny Gould on social media and have attempted, where possible, to dissuade the perpetrators from continuing their actions. As a body we have always intimated to Mr Gould that he has our full support and that any allegations made are groundless.”
“Mr Gould made a tremendous contribution to the work of the Trust for which we and various charities are grateful and we are saddened that he has resigned his position.”
The trust added that it “exists to serve the interests of Aston Villa supporters and the community within which the football club operates.
“The Trust condemns any form of discrimination absolutely and is an apolitical body”.
The issue of racism in sport has been put under the microscope in recent years after multiple incidents of abuse against players and fans.
Chelsea FC said on Friday it had banned an individual for 10 years for posting an antisemitic message on social media. 
The club did not name the individual but said the ban followed court proceedings earlier this year.
It also said its players, staff and fans hailed from a “wide range of backgrounds, including the Jewish community” and that it wanted to ensure everyone felt safe. 
“We will not tolerate any behaviour from supporters that threatens that aim,” it said.
Various sporting bodies, including leading clubs and players, will be boycotting social media platforms this weekend in a bid to encourage firms to do more to stamp out online hate. 

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