On January 6 after a 2-1 win over Sheffield United Women, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies defender Renee Hector took to Twitter and accused a then-unnamed Sheffield player of racial abuse on the pitch. The Football Association immediately opened an investigation into the allegations, and formally charged Sheffield United Women forward Sophie Jones on February 7.
Today, the FA released a statement announcing that Jones had been found guilty of the racial abuse charges and suspended for five matches. Sheffield United Women went even farther, terminating Jones’ playing contract “by mutual consent” in a statement posted on their website.
The FA’s findings were clear: Jones was guilty of making “monkey noises” directed at Hector during the January 6 match, and was suspended for five matches, fined, and ordered to attend a diversity training course. Here is the FA’s full statement:
Sophie Jones has been given a five-match suspension with immediate effect after an ‘Aggravated Breach’ of FA Rule E3(1) was found proven by an Independent Regulatory Commission.
The Sheffield United FC Women’s player denied a charge of using abusive and/or insulting words – that included reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race – towards an opponent during an FA Women’s Championship fixture against Tottenham Hotspur Ladies on 06 January 2019.
The forward was also fined £200 and ordered to attend an FA education course.
Sheffield United, for its part, was equally clear in its own statement about Jones, though noted that Jones continues to express her innocence.
Jones has been found guilty of the charge and as a result has received the sanctions of a five match suspension, a fine of £200 and asked to attend an FA Inclusion and Diversity Workshop. Jones maintains her innocence and is disappointed with the FA’s decision.
The Club works closely with the EFL, the FA and Kick it Out and would like to reiterate that it does not condone racism or any form of discrimination.
Following dialogue between the Club and Jones, and taking into account the length of the suspension, it has been decided that her contract, which was due for review in the summer, will be terminated by mutual agreement.
Both Tottenham Hotspur Women and Hector praised both the FA’s verdict. The club tweeted their support and gratification that the FA came to the correct decision.
We welcome the decision made by the FA and that the appropriate action has been taken. There is no place for any sort of discriminatory language or behaviour in football. https://t.co/GxvenFSmTF— Tottenham Hotspur Ladies (@ThlfcOfficial) March 20, 2019
Hector took to Twitter to thank Spurs fans for their support and to indicate that she is moving on from the incident.
Tottenham Hotspur Ladies continue to sit at the top of the FA Women’s Championship table, two points ahead of Manchester United, who have a game in hand. Spurs’ next match is, ironically, against Sheffield United this coming Sunday, March 24. The match is being supported and promoted by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust; the kick-off time was moved up to 9:00 a.m. UK to avoid conflict with the Tottenham U18’s test event at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.