Bedford Football Club has been praised for its swift actions in dismissing two players found to have sent racist messages on a social media platform.
The newly-signed players sent a number of messages within private WhatsApp groups, using racist language.
Due to an ongoing investigation by Bedfordshire FA, the national FA and Bedfordshire Police, the former players cannot be named.
After the messages were made public, the club acted swiftly and issued a statement on Tuesday (27 July).
“Late last night (Monday), Bedford FC became aware of an incident involving two newly signed players associated to the club relating to comments they made on a private group on a social media platform.
“Following a prompt initial investigation by the club officials, those individuals were dismissed with immediate effect.
“The matter is still under investigation with the relevant agencies.
“Bedford FC have a strict zero-tolerance policy on any form of discrimination on or off the field.”
Support for swift action
The club has since been flooded with messages of support, commending them for their actions.
Someone who saw the group messages told the Bedford Independent this sort of behaviour must be called out and is no longer tolerated.
“I used to play football with one of the individuals that have been dismissed. It’s 2021 and some people still think this behaviour is acceptable,” they said.
“This has set a precedent for clubs in Bedford and I’m glad that Bedford FC took such decisive action. Racism has no place in football, whether it’s in the national squad, Premier League or grassroots.”
They also highlighted that comments like this have a knock-on effect and cause grief for many people, “they have ruined not only their lives but also their families’ lives too,” they said.
And they too praised the club for taking swift action, “this action shows that racists cannot hide in WhatsApp groups anymore.
“I hope it will make people think twice about the language that they use and the views they are expressing. Their views will not be tolerated and their actions have consequences,” they added.
As a local grassroots club, Bedford FC said it prides itself on representing the beautifully diverse community of its hometown.
All of its committee members are volunteers who say they act in the best interests of their players and staff. We were told that many of them have been seriously and adversely affected by this incident.
“There’s no place in society for any form of discrimination,” said the club’s spokesperson.
“I hope that we can be a beacon of light in the town, to show that racism will not be tolerated in our sports clubs and that we will take action to protect our players and stand up to racism.”
Meanwhile, Bedfordshire Police have said they need people to come forward to help them with their own investigation into the comments.
PC Dan O’Mahoney, from Bedfordshire Police’s hate crime team, said: “We have been made aware of racist messages being shared on a private WhatsApp group and has this has been recorded as a hate incident.”
But PC O’Mahoney said they’ve yet to receive a formal complaint about the messages.
“We would encourage anyone who experiences racist language and behaviour to contact us so that a full investigation can take place and the appropriate action can be taken.
“We will never tolerate racism in Bedfordshire and we have a dedicated team to deal with all types of hate crime, providing help and support to those affected.”
Anyone with information about hate crime in our community should contact Bedfordshire Police on 101 or via their online reporting centre.