March 20, 2019 / 3:30 PM / a month ago

Sheffield Utd Women forward ends career after racist abuse ban

(Reuters) - Sheffield United Women’s forward Sophie Jones announced her retirement after being handed a five-match ban by the FA on Wednesday for racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur’s Renee Hector during a game in January.

The FA launched an investigation after defender Hector wrote on Twitter that she had been subjected to “monkey noises” from a Sheffield player in the FA Women’s Championship match on Jan. 6.

“It is with a heavy heart that I feel I am unable to continue within football and play under an organisation that I do not have any confidence in,” Jones, whose contract was terminated by mutual consent, said in a statement.

“I would like to state on record that I do not condone racism in any form and I will continue to stand by this statement.

“I strongly stand firm that I am not guilty with regards to the charge that the FA have brought against me.”

Jones was charged by the governing body last month with breaching various sections of rule E3 on player conduct.

"Sophie Jones has been given a five-match suspension with immediate effect after an 'aggravated breach' of FA Rule E3(1) was found proven by an Independent Regulatory Commission," the FA said in a statement here

The governing body said Jones was also fined 200 pounds ($264) and ordered to attend an FA education course.

“I am struggling to come to terms with this decision and how the FA can come to a verdict based on probability from the two witness accounts verbally given, instead of reviewing the case and its evidence, in its entirety,” Jones said.

The Sheffield club said in a statement here that they do not condone racism or any form of discrimination and that Jones would leave the Yorkshire team.

"Following dialogue between the club and Jones, and taking into account the length of the suspension, it has been decided that her contract, which was due for review in the summer, will be terminated by mutual agreement," the club said here

‘ZERO TOLERANCE’

Hector said on Twitter: “There is no place for racism in our game. A zero tolerance policy is imperative in stamping this out from football therefore I welcome this verdict.

“No one should be subjected to racist abuse on or off the pitch and I felt a responsibility to call it out for what it was.”

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies said in a statement: “We welcome the decision made by the FA and that the appropriate action has been taken. There is no place for any sort of discriminatory language or behaviour in football.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out welcomed the decision.

“Verdicts like this underline the importance of calling out discrimination wherever it is heard – in the women’s or men’s game and at any level,” Kick It Out said in a statement.

“We stand with Renee Hector and her team mates and hope others who may face a similar situation will be empowered to follow their lead.”

United visit Spurs in the Women’s Championship on Sunday.

($1 = 0.7580 pounds)

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Julien Pretot in Paris; editing by Ken Ferris, Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis

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