Football authorities in the North East have been accused of brushing an incident of racism in the Northern League under the carpet.
The accusation comes after a Sky Tyne and Wear camera caught a racist slur on a microphone at a match between Newcastle Benfield and Guisborough.
The footage of the Northern League One game on January 2, 2012 records an insult apparently aimed at Jordan Lartey of Benfield.
His uncle, Dez Lartey, was at the match and made a complaint to Kick it Out identifying one of the Guisborough players as making the remark.
The complaint, made before Dez knew about Sky’s recording, eventually went to the North Riding FA because Guisborough are one of their clubs.
North Riding FA acknowledged there was a racist remark but said: “We were not comfortable we could issue a charge that would stick. In the video evidence there is clearly a racist remark heard but it is not conclusive where it came from.”
Dez Lartey said: "I witnessed it and my son witnessed it so that should be enough for them to take action in one way or another.
"I want them to acknowledge that there is a problem. I just got a bit concerned that they are trying to brush it under the carpet, I don’t know, maybe they don’t want it on their patch."
Guisborough have protested their player’s innocence at every stage. When contacted by Sky Tyne and Wear after the investigation their secretary Keith Smeltzer initially suggested there had been no incident at all but then said, "The words have been attributed to the wrong man. It has been blown out of all proportion."
During the investigation Guisborough declined an opportunity to view the footage. Mr Smeltzer explained why: "There was nothing on it to interest us. It was an unsubstantiated allegation. We didn’t need to see it because we knew it was wrong."
When asked if, regardless of who made the remark, he was concerned that a racist incident happened during a match involving his team Mr Smeltzer said: "No, there has been an investigation. Nothing happened.”
The player at the centre of the row, Jordan Lartey, did not hear the abusive comment at the time.
On being shown the footage by Sky Tyne and Wear, he seemed resigned to it.
He said: "Racism is always going to be alive, it’s improving but people are still going to come out with racist remarks whether you like it or not."
Despite the inconclusive end to North Riding FA’s investigation it seems the matter will now rest.
Having investigated Guisborough, North Riding FA cannot go any further and despite it happening in their area the Northumberland FA feel they cannot investigate the incident at all.
Their chief executive Rowland Maughan told Sky Tyne and Wear: "There is nothing we can do. We have nowhere we can go. All the enquiries have been made by the North Riding FA."
Dez Lartey insists he will try to take the case forward.
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