FA Statement: Former Sheffield United Player “conceal wrongdoing”

In January Ex-Sheffield United forward Sophie Jones was banned from football for five games, fined £200 and ordered to attend an FA inclusion and diversity workshop after being found guilty of racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur player Renee Hector.

The punishment seemed to be a little weak given the offence and to top it off Jones retired as United were terminating her contract. Jumped before pushed?

Jones denied the allegations that she made monkey noises towards Hector. After the ruling said the “hearing took place in a kangaroo court” set up by the Football Association. 

At the time, she went on to say “It is with a heavy heart that I am unable to continue within football and play under an organisation that I do not have any confidence in,” she said. “I am struggling to come to terms with this decision. The FA ‘independent’ panel received more than 10 other witness statements from players in the vicinity including Tottenham players. Also, all the match officials confirmed they did not hear any racial abuse and or comments made.”

The FA said Jones’s case had been heard by an Independent Regulatory Commission comprised of two independent lawyers along with a former player and manager. They found she had broken the FA’s Rule E1 – using abusive and/or insulting words – and her behaviour constituted an “aggravated breach” of FA Rule E3 [2] as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.

Renee Hector. Photo from @renazzza

While I want to believe that maybe this was a misunderstanding I realise that this is very naive of me. Especially after today’s announced that Jones lied to “conceal wrongdoing” over allegations of racist abuse, an FA regulatory commission has ruled.

Witnesses claimed Jones said she had a cough when the allegations were first made on the field, but she denied this during her evidence to an independent regulatory commission.

The report stated: “The commission concluded that SJ’s [Jones’] denial that she had made that remark or indeed spoke to anyone at the time was supportive of the case against her because there was no reason to deny it other than to conceal wrongdoing.”

The report read: “Since SJ’s evidence was that she did not recollect having a cough, and had indeed denied having a cough in her FA interview, it was clear that SJ was lying about having a cough when she said it on the pitch.

“The commission concluded that the only reason to lie at that point was to conceal the fact that she, SJ, was responsible for the noise.”

It isn’t for me to call Jones a racist as I do not know her personally and these actions could have been an idiotic attempt at sledging. With this many cracks appearing in Jones’ account it is only right that the FA shared this outcome with the public. It can serve as a warning to other players and supporters that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

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