Akinfenwa unhappy after FA says 'fat water buffalo' remark was not racist

Ben Fisher on 24 September 2020

Adebayo Akinfenwa is unhappy the Football Association has concluded that a reference to him as a “fat water buffalo” was not racist.

The Wycombe striker alleged he was called that by a representative of Fleetwood Town during last season’s League One play-off semi-final and the FA was satisfied after an investigation that the term was used.

However, the governing body has not deemed the incident worthy of a charge, to the disappointment of Akinfenwa, his club and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Akinfenwa said after the game at home to Fleetwood in July that he was left feeling dehumanised, hurt and angry. The FA received a formal complaint from Wycombe and interviewed a number of witnesses, including players, staff and match officials. It said it commissioned a report from “an independent expert in race relations” to provide an “expert” opinion on the language used.

“The expert was provided with all the details of the allegation, as well as the context in which the words were used, and concluded that the words were not objectively racist,” the FA said. “The FA understands the offence that has been caused to the WWFC player by their use. The FA will therefore seek to monitor the use of these words moving forwards and discourage their use given the potential they have to offend.”

The PFA, which remains in contact and continues to offer Akinfenwa support, argued it was “abundantly clear that a white player with a similar stature to Akinfenwa would never be described in the way he was during this incident”. The union added: “Black people have battled dehumanisation for centuries, and the PFA strongly condemns the use of all disparaging remarks that compare black players to animals.”

Akinfenwa is understood to be unhappy at the decision. Wycombe said the “failure of the FA to act is disappointing” and added: “The club believes the FA had the opportunity to take appropriate steps to ensure the conduct was punished appropriately and to make sure that everyone knows that this type of comment will not be tolerated in the future.”

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