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U's star in racism row
A promising Oxford United footballer has been fined and warned about his future conduct after posting “appalling” racist comments on the Internet.
Midfielder Sam Deering has been reprimanded by the club after writing the comments on the social networking site Facebook.
The teenager, who is currently in hospital with a broken leg, referred to his nurses as “f***** pakis” on Sunday after a friend asked him if they were attractive.
Fans and anti-racism campaigners branded the comments unacceptable — with one calling for Mr Deering to be sacked.
Trevor Lambert, chairman of Oxford United Supporters' trust OxVox, said: “Racism in any form is totally unacceptable.
“It is totally unacceptable coming from anybody but obviously coming from a footballer it is completely unacceptable because they are something of a role model for kids to look up to.
“If it is true I would like to see him educated in some way and maybe doing something with the local Asian community.
“He is a promising young player with lots of people looking up to him.
“Lots of kids across Oxfordshire will be identifying with him and he can do lots of positive things. It is disappointing.”
A former Charlton Athletic and Chelsea youth team player, Mr Deering — originally from East London — joined United as a scholar two years ago and signed a professional contract this autumn.
He was stretchered off with a broken leg during United’s 2-1 defeat against Salisbury on Boxing Day and will not play again this season.
Mr Deering’s comments were available to more than 1,000 people listed as friends on his Facebook site, which members use to share information about their lives.
Piara Powar, a spokesman for the anti-racism Kick It Out campaign, said: “It is unacceptable. It is now down to the club to have a chat with him and discipline him. They need to help him understand his role and responsibilities as an Oxford United player.
“He is doing what many people would crave to do — getting paid to play football professionally.
“There is a code of good behaviour that he needs to adhere to.”
Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, said: “I am absolutely appalled. I think it is a sad indictment that racism is alive and well in this country.
“He should be disciplined and then fired to set an example that this type of racism in the 21st century should not be tolerated.
“I myself am a football fan and I always follow Oxford United and I am totally disappointed someone as a role model is behaving in this despicable manner.
“He should make a public apology. He has brought the club into disrepute.”
STATEMENT FROM OXFORD UNITED IN FULL:
Following comments made on a social networking site, Oxford United Football Club have fined midfielder Sam Deering and warned him as to his future conduct.
Oxford United work very hard to try to help eliminate racism in football and the club will not tolerate prejudice in any form.
Chairman Kelvin Thomas said: “We have taken this issue very seriously.
“I spoke to Sam in person and he has been made very aware that we will not tolerate such comments.
“Sam fully understands that and recognises that he was naive and stupid that these comments were posted.
“Knowing Sam and his background I am confident that he is not a racist, however he must understand that he is a role model and even his throwaway comments have an impact on people’s lives.
“Sam is a young lad who is having to mature very quickly, and we as a club need to ensure that he understands his obligations as a role model and a representative of the football club.
“These thoughtless comments are used too easily in society and we all have to understand that the use of them have an effect.
“He is already distraught about his injury and the operation, and feels terrible that this has happened.
“He is still on strong medication from his operation (on Monday) pinning his broken fibula but he sincerely apologises to anyone offended by these comments and also to the supporters, management and his fellow players at Oxford United.
“Sam will be disciplined by the club and will also be helping our community department in their initiatives, which promote minority involvement in football and Oxford United.
“Oxford United will continue to give our full support to the Kick Racism out of Football campaign and I have spoken to their director and have discussed some education modules for our young players in the new year to avoid these problems in the future.”