Ex Premier League referee Keith Hackett, writing for You Are The Ref, alleged that Sheffield referee Mehdi Najefi has ‘resigned from the game’ following the incident during a recent Tigers game.
Hackett said: “Mehdi Najefi was racially abused whilst running the line at Worksop Town fact and that is why this intelligent young man has resigned from the game.”
Najefi was one of the referee’s assistants for the Worksop game on 23rd December against Penistone Church at Sandy Lane.
The Sheffield and Hallamshire FA have confirmed that the Tigers will now have to respond to the charges.
A spokesperson said: “The club have been charged under FA Rule E20 and they have 14 days to respond to the charge.”
According to a club statement, Worksop Town are cooperating with the game’s authorities and say they won’t tolerate discrimination at Sandy Lane.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of the complaint and are cooperating with the FA as always on this case.
“We would like to reiterate that we do not accept, and have never accepted any form of discrimination from any supporter at the Football Ground.”
Rule E20 says that clubs are responsible for the following: “Ensuring that spectators and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conduct themselves in an orderly fashion and refrain from any one or combination of
the following: improper, violent, threatening, abusive, indecent, insulting or provocative words or behaviour, (including, without limitation, where any such conduct, words or behaviour includes a reference, whether express or implied, to any one or more of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability) whilst attending at or taking part in a match in which it is involved, whether on its own ground or elsewhere.”
Previously, clubs had a defence against an FA charge of misconduct by spectators if they could prove the incident was the result of circumstances over which it had no control, or had used all due diligence to ensure that it had upheld its responsibility.
But a change to the rules, introduced in 2014, means that defence does not apply when the misconduct by spectators of that club included a discriminatory reference, whether express or implied.