Linfield to investigate Carrick claim of 'vile' sectarian abuse during game with Linfield

Currie condemns 'abuse' at Carrick-Linfield game

Linfield say they will investigate "unproven allegations" made by Carrick Rangers of "vile personal and sectarian abuse" during Saturday's game.

Rangers have called on NIFL to take "positive action" over their claims following the match at Taylor's Avenue.

Linfield noted their "surprise and disappointment" at Carrick's statement.

Their internal investigation will include "the unacceptable behaviour of certain Carrick players during and at the end of today's game".

"This club is unaware of the evidence of any sectarian abuse being directed by any of our supporters," Linfield added.

"The club will initiate an internal investigation upon receipt of the match reports from both the referee and the match delegate.

"Linfield Football Club is totally opposed to sectarianism and all forms of discriminatory behaviour and abuse."

Blues stance

Rangers boss Niall Currie said he heard goalkeeper Harry Doherty being abused by fans for 45 minutes and that he was sent off following the match.

He added that Doherty and Carrick defender Caolan Loughran, who he said "reacted" at the end of the game, should have "risen above it".

Currie then tweeted on Sunday: "Let me be clear. 99 per cent of Linfield supporters were magnificent yesterday. I'm talking about one or two very silly people."

Rangers released a statement following the team's 2-0 defeat by he league leaders.

"Carrick Rangers FC totally condemn the vile personal and sectarian abuse directed at players during today's match," the club said.

"We would call on all clubs and the NI Football League to take positive action to begin to stamp out what has become an endemic problem in our local game."

Carrick Rangers' home ground Taylor's Avenue
Carrick Rangers' home ground Taylor's Avenue

Carrick's statement comes after multiple reports of abuse during the current football season.

In January, Larne condemned "vile abuse" towards their goalkeeper Conor Devlin during their 2-1 victory over Glentoran at Inver Park, prompting a statement from NIFL vowing to tackle a rise in alleged incidents of "unacceptable spectator behaviour".

A week later, Warrenpoint Town claimed their goalkeeper Mark Byrne was subjected to "sectarian verbal abuse" prior to the brawl that overshadowed their Irish Cup encounter with Ballymena United.

Byrne was later banned for three months for "bringing the game into disrepute" while both Warrenpoint and Ballymena received fines for "spectator misconduct".

Ballymena United subsequently issued a statement saying that the Irish FA's verdict into the brawl at Warrenpoint "totally exonerated" the club's fans of sectarianism claims.

Warrenpoint keeper Mark Byrne was suspended following the Irish Cup incident
Warrenpoint keeper Mark Byrne was suspended following the Irish Cup incident

Another goalkeeper - Crusaders' Gerard Doherty - told the Derry Journalexternal-link he was the target of "sectarian shouts" during the Irish Cup quarter-final match between Crusaders and Glentoran at the Oval on 29 February.

Carrick, who earlier this season mourned the sudden death of player Jerry Thompson, also claim supporters brought a megaphone to Taylor's Avenue on Saturday in order to direct abuse at players.

"It is totally unacceptable for supporters to bring a megaphone to a football match with the sole aim of directing abuse at players," their statement continued.

"Whilst we in no way condone the action of players who react to this provocation, this must be seen as a direct result of receiving diabolical abuse throughout the 90 minutes.

"We, more than many clubs this season, are acutely aware of the pressures that our young players face and the impact that this type of abuse can have on their mental health.

"We would call on all clubs to do what they can to try and reverse this very unpleasant trend."

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