The allegation that footballers from ethnically diverse backgrounds were segregated from white colleagues at Crawley Town FC would amount to modern-day “apartheid”, according to one anti-racism campaigner.
The scandal that has engulfed the League Two club centres on manager John Yems who has been suspended while three separate investigations are carried out.
Multiple players have accused him of repeatedly using offensive racist language and even forcing non-white players to use different changing rooms.
Sky News has spoken to one former player who has now left the club after being managed by Mr Yems.
The footballer wanted to remain anonymous but said he believes the claims about racist language and player segregation are, in his view, “all true”.
Anti-racism campaigner Shaun Campbell told Sky News he was horrified by the allegations.
“If true, then this would be apartheid, in its latest form, and in the UK,” he said.
“It belongs in the past, not in the present, and not in the future, it’s an ultra-low point in the fight against racism and discrimination.”
Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa and South-West Africa until the early 1990s.
Sky Sports News understands that seven footballers made complaints to the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) who are investigating and supporting those involved – the Football Association (FA) and the club’s new American owners have also started investigations.
Last night, Crawley Town held a fans’ forum at their ground where supporters were told they could not ask questions about the matter because of the ongoing investigations.
After the meeting, season ticket holder Chris Cheshire told Sky News she was disturbed by what is being alleged. “It concerns all of us very deeply… but we have to wait for facts and evidence,” she said.
“If they prove not to be true then he will presumably continue – if there is a shred of truth in them, he has got to go.”
The club was recently brought by American investors who suspended Mr Yems 11 days ago when they discovered what was being alleged.
‘We are treating the allegations extremely seriously’
The owners declined an interview request from Sky News but have previously described the allegations as “serious and credible”.
Kick It Out’s chief executive Tony Burnett told Sky News: “They’re not talking about micro-aggressions; they sound like very serious allegations. We’re very pleased that the authorities are taking it seriously and are doing what they need to do to get to the bottom of it.
“When we get to the conclusion, we’d expect transparency and for them to hold the game to account for doing the right thing when it comes to the next steps.”
A spokesperson for the FA said: “We are aware of allegations made against Crawley Town manager John Yems.
“We are treating the allegations extremely seriously and are currently conducting an investigation into them. We cannot comment further until that has concluded.”
Mr Yems has not yet responded to requests for comment from Sky News.
The investigations are all on-going and have not yet reached any conclusions.
Crawley Town are currently 12th in League Two and Lewis Young, brother of former England star Ashley Young, has taken over running the first team for the final game of the season this weekend.
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