Rochdale’s head groundsman Joshua Haigh handed six-week suspension by FA for racially abusing a football presenter after League Two match
- The man was walking towards the dugouts when there was a ‘heated altercation’
- The abuse was described as ‘appalling and totally without justification or excuse’
- Haigh had denied the charge and has the right to appeal against the ruling
Rochdale’s head groundsman Joshua Haigh has been suspended for six weeks for racially abusing a football presenter after a match in February.
The man, who has not been named in the report, was walking on the pitch towards the dugouts to carry out post-match interviews with the managers when there was a ‘heated altercation’ with Haigh, an FA tribunal heard
Haigh’s subsequent behaviour towards him was described as ‘appalling and totally without justification or excuse’.
Haigh was alleged to have said: ‘Look at your f****** s*** trainers. It’s exactly the same as your f****** s*** hair and your s*** skin. I see all of it. I see everything that’s about you.’
It followed the League Two game at Spotland between Rochdale and Stockport County, which County won 2-1.
Rochdale’s head groundsman Joshua Haigh has been suspended for six weeks by the FA
Haigh denied the charge but an independent regulatory commission found him guilty of an ‘aggravated breach’ of Football Association Rule E3.
His suspension from all football and football-related activity means he cannot attend Rochdale games both home and away. The sanction passed also includes ‘face-to-face education’ and a warning over his future conduct.
Haigh has the right to appeal against the ruling.
The commission’s written reasons have now been published by the FA.
‘As the complainant was on or near the centre circle he was approached by Mr Haigh, who along with other groundsmen, had been working on the pitch,’ said the published ruling.
‘Unfortunately the CCTV did not have audio and therefore the commission has to rely upon the video footage as supplemented by the evidence of the witnesses to understand what was said and when it was said. Another practical difficulty is that that the CCTV footage cut off at 10pm in accordance with Rochdale’s usual practice.
‘The actual incident giving rise to the charge is said to have occurred just after that cut-off point.’
Haigh, in FA interviews, claimed he approached the man and politely asked him to leave the pitch because he wasn’t allowed to be on it.
The man, however, said Haigh was ‘extremely aggressive’ towards him and shouting.
‘The complainant says there was no racist abuse at that stage, only shouting and aggressive language from Mr Haigh. Although there is no audio with the CCTV it can be seen that the exchange was likely to have been heated,’ adds the ruling.
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