Lewisham police and Millwall Football Club are investigating an alleged racist incident, reported on Twitter by Bolton player Marvin Sordell at The Den on Saturday.
After the Lions 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers, Sordell tweeted: “It’s 2012 in England and people are still shouting racial abuse at a football game!? #shocking.”
In a second tweet he stated that, alongside players Lee Chung-yong, Darren Pratley and Benik Afobe, he had been abused in front of police officers.
“Chungy, Pratts, Benik and I had all sorts of things said to us. The police were standing yards away and did nothing,”
A spokesperson for Lewisham Police denied that the abuse had been heard by police officers: “There were police officers in the stadium during the match, however neither officers nor the stewards have reported to have heard any racist language before during or after the game.”
Although no formal complaint has been made, the Lewisham police say that they will look thoroughly at the events on Saturday, in conjunction with Millwall officials.
Millwall will be working with the police and the match officials in a joint effort to determine whether there were incidents of racial abuse. They will not comment further until such investigations are concluded, but they did say: “The two clubs [Millwall and Bolton] remain determined to do everything in their power to ensure that racist behaviour will not be tolerated.”
The official fan representative on Millwall’s board, Peter Garston, added: “It seems pretty unfair that such an issue can be raised via a social networking site with no evidence to corroborate, especially as there were plenty of officials available at the time to raise the alleged complaint.”
Garston also said that “Millwall have done and do on a regular basis more to stamp out such unacceptable behaviour than most other clubs.”
Millwall are one of only two Football League sides that have met the Kick It Out campaign’s Intermediate Equality Standards, alongside Sheffield United. They are currently working towards meeting the Advanced Standard.
On October 22 the club will also host an event where 90 young people will have the chance to meet players and discuss the athletes’ experiences of abuse and the club’s initiatives to tackle discrimination.
In March there will be a community match aimed at highlighting the work done by the club in the nearby boroughs. Tickets will be distributed through a number of schools and community groups within Lewisham.