“Sheffield United footballer Sophie Jones guilty before she had even faced the FA”
This letter to The Star is from Ted Fowler Sheffield, S5
After following the story of the Sheffield United Women footballer Sophie Jones and finding that the FA had found her guilty of being racist towards an opponent, I kind of sympathise with her.
Sophie Jones claims that her barrister was not allowed to speak up for her at the disciplinary hearing and she put forward 10 witness statements, including Tottenham Hostspur players and match officials, saying they heard no racist abuse.
I would have thought that had she been guilty she would have owned up and apologised.
However, to subsequently turn her back on football, stating that she could not play under people who, basically, had already had her as guilty before she had even faced them, leads me to believe her.
I was a football secretary for more than 20 years and I had to face a disciplinary committee once because a referee had accused someone belonging to my club of threatening him.
When he pointed this fellow out, I told him he was nothing to do with us and that he must be a local because we were the away team.
So he reported us to the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA and I had to face them.
He told his side of the story, stating that the chap in question was with our party, because he saw him getting a car being driven by my captain, whom he remembered issuing a yellow card to.
I then caught him out lying when I informed the committee that my player couldn’t even drive, and didn’t own a car and I had picked the player up and dropped him off after our game.
I thought that was it but no, the committee went along with the referee’s version and fined our club.
To compound matters, when I came out of the hearing I saw a secretary from another team in our league, awaiting trial for the same accusation from the same referee.
I just wish I had known before I faced them because it cannot be right when a disciplinary panel take the word of someone lying through his teeth, to get two football clubs punished for nothing.
So, I tend to feel sorry for Sophie. It’s not very nice when you get punished for something you know you haven’t done.
The best thing to come out of my episode was the said referee packed it all in.
The majority of referees are fine and do a thankless job but, unfortunately some are not.