Youth football team manager is charged over Facebook posts

CHARGED Football coach Steve Clarke
CHARGED Football coach Steve Clarke
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A YOUTH football team manager whose Facebook page had racist and homophobic comments on it has been charged by Hampshire Football Association.

Steve Clarke, who manages the under-15s squad at Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC, faces two charges. He is accused of improper conduct and of making comments deemed to be of a racist nature.

Hampshire FA and the Football Association last month launched an investigation after Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC passed on information regarding allegations made about Mr Clarke on an internet blog.

When he was approached by The News, Mr Clarke, from Havant, strongly denied making any racist or homophobic comments.

He said the only explanation he could think of for the comments appearing on his page was that his profile on the social networking website had been hacked. He told The News he no longer holds a Facebook account.

Mr Clarke, who has previously used an image of himself pictured with young players as his profile picture on Facebook, has been given until April 12 to respond to Hampshire FA about the two allegations.

A spokesman for Hampshire FA said: ‘He has got the choice of whether to plead guilty or not guilty.

‘He can either have the matter dealt with at a personal hearing or dealt with in his absence. If he requests a personal hearing, we have to give 14 days’ notice of the date of the hearing.

‘It all depends on how quickly he responds as to how quickly the case gets dealt with.

‘There isn’t a maximum penalty set down. It would be at the discretion of the panel that deals with it. It’s not something we deal with very often.’

Should Mr Clarke decide to opt for a personal hearing, it could be held before a four-strong disciplinary panel.

The panel would consist of specially-trained members from across the county who would be charged with considering the allegations made against Mr Clarke. The case could either be dealt with at county level or by the national FA.

The News tried to contact Mr Clarke, but he was unavailable for comment.

A Havant & Waterlooville Youth FC spokeswoman said the club was unable to comment at this stage. The youth football club has no links with Havant & Waterlooville FC – who are also known as the Hawks.