Gillingham FC 'racially victimised Mark McCammon'

Mark McCammon
Image caption Mr McCammon said Gillingham had tried to "frustrate him out"

A black footballer's dismissal by his club was unfair racial victimisation, a tribunal has ruled.

Mark McCammon, 33, claimed Gillingham FC refused him treatment for an injury, docked his wages and fined him for not turning up during heavy snow.

At the employment tribunal in Ashford, Kent, he alleged he and other black players at the club were treated differently from white players.

The League Two club said it was "hugely disappointed" by the decision.

A statement issued by Mr McCammon's solicitors said: "He was astounded that the club went to such lengths to both dismiss him and win their case before the tribunal.

"Mr McCammon hopes that his success will make other players feel free to raise legitimate complaints of discrimination."

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, said it was a "landmark ruling".

He said: "It will inevitably have implications for all clubs about the way they treat people and do not discriminate against them on the grounds of race, colour, ethnicity or anything else."

At the hearing, the striker said the club had tried to "frustrate him out" by refusing to pay private medical bills to help him regain his fitness following injury when he still had eight months left on his contract.

He said he was instead offered the choice of undergoing the same operation on the NHS rather than privately, which was "completely out of character" for a Football League club.

'Aggressive conduct'

The former Charlton, Swindon, Millwall and Brighton player told the tribunal: "The way the chairman approached the matter was that he saw my injury as a way to get rid of any financial obligations such as my wages he might have as a result of my contract."

He also claimed he and two other black players were ordered to come into the ground amid "treacherous", snowy driving conditions otherwise their wages would be docked, while some white players were told they were not required.

The tribunal heard this resulted in a confrontation with manager Andy Hessenthaler, whom Mr McCammon claimed lost his temper with him after he had accused him of being "racially intolerant" over the decision to order them in.

Mr McCammon was subsequently ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing and later received a letter saying he had been dismissed for aggressive conduct towards the manager and racism, the tribunal was told.

The Barbados international striker signed a three-year contract with Gillingham in 2008 and was released three seasons later.

Gillingham FC said it was in discussions with its lawyers to decide on the club's next course of action and whether to appeal.

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