A Senglea FC player has strongly denied accusations that he hurled a racist slur at an opposing Birkirkira FC player during a heated match last night.
Since the incident, both teams have issued statements supporting their players, with Senglea FC saying their player, Andre Scicluna, was ready to sign a legal affidavit over what happened. For their part, Birkirkara FC supported Paul Mbong while calling for an official MFA investigation, condemning all forms of racism.
Scicluna has since posted on social media giving his version of events to “set the record straight”.
“I got sent off for a double yellow card after having a heated argument with another player, following a tackle and verbal offences coming my way, to which I equally responded. I want to apologise to my team mates for leaving them to finish the game with 10 men. I’m aware I should not give in to provocations of this nature, and I am not proud for having retaliated,” Scicluna said.
Footage of the incident, which occurred in the 85th minute of the match, shows how heated things got, with a physical altercation happening after the late-game tackle.
@lovinmaltaofficialAn argument between Birkirkara FC and Senglea FC last night has escalated into a request for an official investigation into alleged racism ##fyp ##malta♬ original sound – Lovin Malta
While Scicluna admits he got physical, he denies ever bringing in Mbong’s race.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I have shared dressing rooms with team mates of various ethnicities, and I have always built great relationships and made a lot of friendships throughout my career,” Scicluna said.
“I have utmost respect for all individuals, regardless of their ethnicity, skin colour or race. I strongly condemn racism in any shape or form and believe that more needs to be done to defeat such a horrible phenomenon. As an educator myself, I strive to pass on these beliefs to the next generation, and always seek to create awareness and promote mutual respect.”
However, he condemned how the situation had been “twisted” to portray a different picture, saying it was “vile” for another play to try to play the race card to gain sympathy.
“I’m shocked that our argument did not end on the pitch, as often happens in cases were two players clash in the heat of the moment. I am extremely saddened to see that this incident has been painted in such a skewed manner and blown out of proportion in such an outrageous way,” he said
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Scicluna said he was “not proud” that he got physical, but would never use someone’s skin colour against them.
“I pushed him because he attacked me verbally and came again from behind. And I’m not proud to have pushed him. But I never passed on racial remarks. Nothing I said could have been misinterpreted. Nothing I said was close to racial abuse,” he said.
“Do you think I would have come out so strongly against racism itself if I had passed on such remarks? I strongly stand by my beliefs and I would never say anything of that sort to anyone.”