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FORMER England and Newcastle forward Peter Beardsley has been suspended from all football-related activity after being found guilty of making comments that were “obviously racist” by an independent regulatory commission.
The 58-year-old, who denied the allegations, left his role as the Magpies’ Under-23s coach earlier this year after an internal investigation and has now been banned from the game by the Football Association for 32 weeks until April next year.
The regulatory commission’s written reasons for its decision reveal they accepted allegations made by four unnamed players that he had told black players of African origin that “you should be used to that” during a team-building exercise at Go Ape, suggested 18-year-old players were older than they claimed and called another a monkey.
In its conclusion, the commission said: “We regret the outcome that we have felt compelled to reach in this case. Mr Beardsley is a towering figure in football and his footballing reputation is beyond question.
“But on the three occasions which are the subject of the charges, he made remarks which were obviously racist and were wholly unacceptable. Even if he did not intend to do so, he plainly did cause offence.
“It is particularly important at a time when racism in football is prevalent that remarks of the kind made by Mr Beardsley are punished severely.”
The written reasons continued: “We are satisfied that Mr Beardsley is not a racist in the sense of being ill-disposed to persons on grounds of their race or ethnicity.
“He is now 58 years of age. It is also relevant that he has not had the benefit of training and education about offensive racist remarks and the importance of not making them.”
The FA has ordered Beardsley to complete a face-to-face education course.
In a statement released on his behalf by his solicitors, Beardsley spoke of his disappointment at the decision, but vowed to return to football.
It said: “Peter Beardsley is very surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Regulatory Commission.
“It was almost impossible for Peter to clear his name because of the serious flaws and contamination of evidence that occurred in the disciplinary process before Newcastle United and by the unusual fact that The FA Rules put the burden of proof on him to prove his innocence in the proceedings.”
A formal complaint was made about Beardsley by midfielder Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, who has since left the club, in January last year.
It was alleged Beardsley used abusive and/or insulting words towards Newcastle’s Under-23 players but he had denied the allegations. “I’m not a bully, and I’m not a racist,” he said at a public speaking event in Gateshead during March.
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