Sky Blues complain over Abbas taunts

Barely a week after being made the face of an anti-racism campaign, Sydney FC have lodged a formal complaint regarding an alleged racist incident involving Ali Abbas during Saturday night's Sydney derby.

Football Federation Australia confirmed that the Iraqi midfielder had pressed forward with the complaint after discussions with club officials on Sunday morning, with the club releasing a statement the same afternoon.

The Sky Blues won the match 3-1 at Allianz Stadium, a result that temporarily lifted the side into top four.

“Sydney FC has confirmed it will lodge an official complaint with Football Federation Australia on Monday over comments made to midfielder Ali Abbas during Sydney FC's 3-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers last night,” a the statement read. “Abbas complained about comments made to him in relation to his cultural and religious background.”

Abbas was one of the players used in an advertisement for the A-League's “Erase Racism Round”, which took place last weekend. The campaign used players of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to support a push to eliminate racism from the sport.

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata said the club was now pursuing formal action with the governing body.

“We will be undergoing due process with FFA,” said Pignata. “We ask that the privacy of Ali Abbas is respected at this time and no further comment will be made while the complaint procedure takes it course.”

Abbas was furious during the second half after being insulted by a Wanderers player, and appeared to exchange colourful words with his own teammates as they tried to physically subdue him.

After the match, in an interview with host broadcaster Fox Sports, Abbas revealed that he had been abused.

“We are not here to attack religion or culture, we are here to play football,” he said. “I come from a different country, I respect everyone here. I should get it back. If I don't get it back, I'm going to attack. That's what happened. If people attack religion, if people attack culture — I'm against that. We need to stop that.”

The FFA acknowledged they had received a complaint but said they were prohibited from commenting further because of their own regulations.

“Such complaints are dealt with under FFA's national member protection policy. Upon receipt of the formal complaint, FFA will instigate an investigation of the incident. The resolution process may include mediation or referral to a disciplinary tribunal,” a statement read. “Under the national member protection policy, the process is conducted confidentially and therefore FFA will make no comment about the allegation or the investigation.”

The A-League has very rarely had to deal with acts of racism, though in 2012, Wellington Phoenix striker Paul Ifill said he was abused by a spectator during a match in Adelaide.

Ifill was on the front foot on this latest instance, praising Sydney FC striker Corey Gameiro, who was incensed by the abuse, labelling it as “disgusting” in this tweet after the match.

Adelaide striker Bruce Djite, who was also part of the anti-racism campaign, wrote a tweet to A-League boss Damian De Bohun, saying that if the Wanderers' player had insulted Abbas as alleged, he would need be dealt with “very strongly” and was "embarrassing our game".

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