Former Chairman and Editor in racial controversy

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Football West State League Division One club Mandurah City has spoken out in defence of its President Peter Rowe after disparaging comments made on social media this week.

In a conversation that took place on Facebook, Rowe offered his very forthright opinions on Muslims in the wake of the Sydney Siege tragedy.

However, when later taken to task by other members of the football community, Rowe spoke out in an interview with the Mandurah Mail and claimed that he had been set up.

“I am angry,” said Rowe, who has worked in the media as a senior news editor for the West Australian newspaper.

“I think this is dirty tricks. I have no desire to provoke hatred or any criminal behaviour, but I do have concerns about a certain section of the population.

“I was not making hatred comments.”

The Football Sack can confirm that this is not the case; the original comments can be seen below, and are still publicly viewable on Facebook.

Despite this irrefutable evidence, the statement from Mandurah City insists that Rowe’s comments were altered and taken out of context.

The club’s response has been met with great disappointment from members of the WA football community who believe that Rowe’s position is now untenable.

One look at Rowe’s vision for City on the club’s website appears to be in stark contrast to his views on religion.

“I would like it to become the club of choice for anyone wanting to play the game in our region – open and accessible to all,” he states.

Football West, the game’s peak body in Western Australia, has also issued a statement on the matter and expressed its disappointment with Rowe’s comments, while also advising that Football Federation Australia (FFA) has been notified.

“Soccer is the world’s most inclusive sport and Football West is appalled by these derogatory comments. The sport does not tolerate prejudice towards any race, religion or culture,” said Football West Chairman Liam Twigger.

“Football West embraces all cultures and works closely with the State Government to deliver positive outcomes to all communities.  

“Through the Outreach for Diversity Program, Football West assists those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, including those from the Muslim community, to play, coach, referee and administer the game in WA.
 
“Football West will not tolerate comments or actions of any individual or group that are contrary to the sport’s inclusive and harmonious community standing and the expectations of Australian society.”

While Football West has spoken to Rowe, no action has been taken at this stage.

Football West also advised its members to remember to follow the FFA’s Code of Conduct, and with that in mind, there is little doubt that Rowe has contravened the following points with his remarks:

1.2 This Code:

(a) forms part of the FFA Statutes and applies to the conduct and behaviour of FFA, Member Federations, Competition Administrators, Clubs, Players, Officials and Agents (Members);

(c) continues to apply to a Member even after that Member’s association, registration, employment or engagement has ended, if that Member breached the Code while a current Member;

2.2 Without limiting the generality of clause 2.1, a Member will be taken as having brought football into Disrepute if any of the following occurs:

(a) discriminatory behaviour, including public disparagement of, discrimination against, or vilification of, a person on account of an Attribute;

(k) any other conduct, behaviour or statement that materially injures the reputation and goodwill of FFA or football generally.

Attribute means race, colour, religion, language, politics, national or ethnic origin, gender, transgender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, pregnancy or intellectual or physical impairment or any other attribute specified under commonwealth or state legislation.

Back in June of this year, FFA Chief Executive David Gallop spoke strongly about the sport being inclusive when the National Club Identity Policy was launched.

“Football is now a part of the mainstream of Australian society and has achieved that status while also retaining its rich diversity,” said Gallop.

“The intent of the National Club Identity Policy is to ensure the game remains inclusive and accessible, not just in the way we organise ourselves, but in how we engage with the community.”

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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