The Football Association must decide on Friday if it wants to appeal the eight-week suspension and fine given to Millwall’s head of youth recruitment for a breach of their social media activity rules, relating to an anti-Islamic post.
Barry Dunn admitted to an aggravated breach of FA regulations relating to the social media post from another account that he retweeted on March 15. Dunn was also fined £525, ordered to attend a mandatory face-to-face education programme and received a reprimand and warning as to his future conduct.
The sanctions were handed down by an Independent Regulatory Commission, with the seven-day deadline to appeal expiring on Friday. The FA has been contacted for comment.
The FA successfully appealed against an Independent Regulatory Commission decision in January to issue a 17-month ban to John Yems from all football-related activity after the former Crawley Town manager admitted to one charge and was found guilty of a further 11 out of 16 charges for breaching FA Rule E3.2.
The FA appealed on the basis the sanction was insufficient and the commission had reached a decision to which no reasonable body could have come to. The appeal was upheld and Yems was subsequently banned for three years.
The FA had brought 16 breaches of FA Rule E3.2 against Yems over comments that “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief and/or gender” to Crawley players between 2019 and 2022 while he was manager.
Figures released by Kick It Out figures in July showed a 300 per cent increase in reports of an Islamophobic nature.
Millwall youth recruitment chief Dunn was suspended by the club on May 15 this year, one month before the charge against him was brought.
At Millwall, Dunn, 71, is responsible for the identification and recruitment of young players for the club’s age-group sides.
Millwall to conduct own investigation
A statement from Millwall Football Club to Sky Sports News read: “The club notes the regulatory commission’s decision to find a member of its staff guilty of a breach of FA Rule 3.1. As is company policy, the club will now conduct its own disciplinary process in line with HR regulations.
“Millwall has a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination of all kinds and continues to work tirelessly alongside all stakeholders to help with football’s industry-wide efforts to rid the sport and society of any prejudices.”
One week prior to the post Dunn shared, Millwall had signed up to the Muslim Athlete Charter, an initiative from Nujum Sports, helping sporting organisations build environments and cultures which actively support players of that faith.
Speaking at the time, Millwall CEO Steve Kavanagh said: “As a club we are striving to create an environment where players and staff can maximise their ability and talent and this will help those of Muslim faith to do exactly that.”
Nujum Sports have been contacted by Sky Sports News for comment.
‘Football needs to wake up’
Yunus Lunat, the first Muslim member in the history of the FA Council told Sky Sports News the Football Association will need to determine whether or not it chooses to appeal against the suspension handed down to Dunn.
“Football really needs to wake up,” Lunat, former chair of the FA’s Race, Equality and Advisory Board, told Sky Sports News.
“The FA, to be fair, have acted. When complaints are brought to the attention of the FA, they will investigate, and deal with them in accordance with their processes, and they have dealt with it in accordance with their processes.
“Now I’d query whether an eight-week-ban is on the lenient side perhaps. You’d draw a parallel with John Yems, is it something worth the FA appealing? That’s something for the FA to determine.
“But it’s particularly worth bearing in mind the significant, influential role as a gatekeeper that this man held.
“So it may be that the FA needs to consider whether it is a sanction that should be appealed. But in terms of what football needs to do moving forward, I go back to what I said in 2019 – it needs to lose its blind spot when it comes to Islamophobia.”
‘The community is watching on’
Former Eastern Eye sports editor Zohaib Rashid questioned the severity of Dunn’s punishment.
“In 2023, we’ve had a number of cases of Islamophobia in football – and these are only the ones we know about and the ones that have been reported.
“At this moment in time, the punishment for the recent case amounts to a little over a few hundred quid fine and a few weeks’ gardening leave. Is that the bar that has been set for future incidents?
The community is watching on and will be observing with great interest what the football family does from this point onwards.
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