Cape Town football association under pressure to act following All Lives Matter controversy

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cape town tygerberg football association emblem.
cape town tygerberg football association emblem.

A controversial incident involving English Premier League club Burnley and the heated topic surrounding racial equality has trickled its way into the local Cape Town football scene.

The incident, in which Burnley fans flew a "White Lives Matter – Burnley" banner over the Etihad Stadium moments before a match against Manchester City on 22 June was immediately widely condemned.

Locally, the chairperson of the Cape Town Tygerberg Referees Association, John Ross, then came under fire for a Facebook post he shared on 23 June in support of the controversial "White Lives Matter" banner.

At the time, the Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association (CTTFA) strongly condemned Ross's comment and said it was "irresponsible and lacks understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement".

John Ross facebook post.
Anwar Gallant petition on Change.org.
Anwar Gallant petition on Change.org.
Supplied
cape town tygerberg football association emblem.
cape town tygerberg football association emblem.
Supplied

An investigation was swiftly undertaken into the incident with Ross notified of his transgression soon after.

Sport24 has now learned that the matter was finally heard by the CTTFA committee on Wednesday, 11 November with the association under intense scrutiny to take severe action against Ross.

"The matter was heard last night," CTTFA chairperson Andrew Bothman told Sport24 last week.

"I can't say when the matter will be concluded but that will be determined by the hearing's chairperson and the two parties.

"The chairperson will hand down judgement when he deliberates his findings. So, it's up to the disciplinary committee who were in charge last night to now reach an outcome and decide the way forward."

The association added that time-frames for disciplinary hearings being concluded are often difficult to determine as there could be varying factors, with postponements always likely.

"We have a well-respected member of our LFA who is chairing the matter - Dawood Essack - so we have a lot of confidence in him to conclude this matter,” Bothman added.

Sport24 discovered that after speaking to a number of sources that for years there have been claims of a growing divide along racial lines within the well-renowned Cape Town football league association.

Several past allegations were also made against Ross of discrimination and unfair treatment towards certain member clubs.

Regarding his Facebook post, several clubs are said to have shown their disgust at Ross's comments while two clubs, Hanover Park FC and FC Kaapstad, have threatened to boycott the association if appropriate action is not taken.

SAFA Cape Town has also demanded action be taken and viewed the matter as serious while saying Ross's comments "resulted to racist remarks".

A petition was also created, which garnered overwhelming support for the permanent removal of Ross from the CTTFA association.

Anwar Gallant, who created the petition, says his actions were needed for many to voice their displeasure at the inflammatory comments from a well-known divisive figure within the organisation.

Anwar Gallant petition on Change.org.
Anwar Gallant petition on Change.org.
Supplied

"His remarks regarding the Black Lives Matter movement were the tip of the iceberg for me," Gallant said.

"These incidents regarding John Ross have been a long time coming because he is the head of the referee's association, so is in charge of many matters that find their way to the disciplinary committee (DC).

"Over the years there have been decisions which have favoured white clubs with coloured clubs not receiving the same amount of respect or fair decisions.

"So this has been coming on for a while.

"He obviously has come out now and said he's not racist and he's not this and not that, but it's not so much about being racist ... it's more about being prejudice against others."

Gallant added that he hoped to raise awareness against the years of unfair treatment suffered by many member clubs.

"Because he's the head of the Cape Town Tygerberg Referees Association I wanted him to resign from his post because if he has an inability to be fair within his role then he shouldn't be there.

"I don't mind if he doesn't support the Black Lives Matter movement but he at least needs to understand what it's about and not actively speak out against it.

"Then the comments that follow on his post just shows the type of friends he has and the kind of characters he surrounds himself with.

Gallant also went on to allege that Ross and his legal representation have been using delaying tactics and methods to manipulate the system.

"So we're all waiting on the outcome of last night's hearing because the incident happened back in June and we still haven't had a decision."

Sport24 reached out to Ross who said that, on advice from his legal team, he had been advised to not make any comment publicly.

"I have never sat on the board of disciplinary hearings in any capacity so I have never had any direct influence over cases regarding certain clubs. So it would be wrong to say that I treat certain clubs differently.

"As a referee too I have ever only witnessed racial slurs twice and have brandished red cards and reported those incidents on both occasions."

"Any sanction against me I believe would be too harsh because I believe what I said wasn't racist," Ross added. "But at the age of 63 years old, I've accepted that I won't be involved in another CTTFA fixture."

Speaking back in June, Ross had also apologised at the time while denying any racist intention was involved.

"It's very simple. I made the post, but I never said anything racist and I didn't understand what the fuss was about," Ross told the Daily Voice.

"There is no racism.

"In fact, if you read the comment, I only criticised the Premier League.

"Afterwards I spoke to people I respect and I understand that it was insensitive. I realise that now. I understand that black people in the US and here in South Africa have suffered from injustice. It's about treating both sides equal."

The Cape Town Tygerberg Association is an amateur football league association based in the Cape Town Tygerberg area consisting of up to 42 teams across three divisions.

The teams included are Saxon Rovers, Norway Parks Magic, Hanover Park, Rygersdal, Edgemead, Bellville City, FN Rangers, Durbanville, Sunningdale City, Vasco Da Gama, Wynberg St Johns, Avendale Athletico, Table View, Fish Hoek, Old Mutual, Bothasig, Kapstadt, Garden Village, Green Point, JMI, Kensington, Lansdowne, Northpine United, Ruyterwacht, UCT, Ymo St Lukes, Holy Cross, Meadowridge, Barmsley Spurs, Camps Bay, Cape United, Chelsea, Clyde Pinelands, Goodwood United, Kuils River, AFC Parklands, Queens Park, Tramway, Varsity College, West End United, YSD, Macassar, De Beers.

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