A YOUTH team manager has been suspended from football after being found guilty of making racist and homophobic comments on Facebook.
Steve Clarke, former manager of the under-15s squad at Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC, has been relieved of his duties in the wake of a Hampshire Football Association hearing.
He strongly denies posting the comments and is appealing the decision made against him.
But a Hampshire FA disciplinary panel found Mr Clarke guilty and has suspended him from all football and football-related activities for two years.
Mr Clarke previously told The News the only explanation he could think of for the comments appearing on his page was that his profile was hacked.
He said he no longer holds a Facebook account.
Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC chairman Gavin Marchant has also been suspended from football for 35 days and fined £50 for adding comments in response to posts on Mr Clarke’s Facebook page.
Neil Cassar, chief executive of Hampshire FA, said: ‘It is very disappointing to see any cases of discrimination arise in football and we are fully committed to tackling any incidents of this nature head on.’
Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC has been given a £100 fine.
The fine has been suspended on the condition the club hosts a joint meeting between the FA and Hampshire FA to address disciplinary issues and those around the FA’s Respect in football programme before September.
All club officials, managers and coaches must attend or the club will have to pay the fine.
The club said in a statement that Mr Clarke had been relieved of all duties indefinitely and with immediate effect following the disciplinary hearing.
It added: ‘Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC fully respect the FA disciplinary committee’s verdict on this matter and would like to apologise for any offence caused.
‘We would like to make quite clear that the views the FA have found were expressed by Mr Clarke must be deemed to be his own personal views and are in no way that of the club.
‘We will not tolerate racism or prejudice of any kind.
‘Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC is a progressive club with young footballers from all social backgrounds enjoying a safe and secure environment to play sport.
‘We are proud of our standing in the community and will continually strive to make a difference.’
In a statement Mr Marchant said: ‘I would like to apologise for comments I made and fully respect the decision of the FA disciplinary panel at the personal hearing I attended.
‘I would also like to apologise to my club if it has caused any embarrassment and undue publicity which we as a club do not want or need.
‘I have strived to be a proactive chairman of a grassroots football club and once my 35-day suspension has expired, I will return to my post of chairman, with the backing of the FA disciplinary panel and I will work harder to regain the recognition that this club deserves.’
Mr Clarke told The News he would not comment at this stage.