Adebayo Akinfenwa says FA missed chance to 'stamp out' racist terminology after Fleetwood investigation

25 September 2020, 09:54 | Updated: 25 September 2020, 11:18

Adebayo Akinfenwa has criticised the Football Association's decision to clear a Fleetwood employee of any wrongdoing after the Wycombe striker was called a "fat water buffalo" during last season's League One play-off semi-final.

The FA investigation found the remark had been used to describe Akinfenwa during the second-leg tie at Highbury Stadium in July, but that it had not been used in a discriminatory manner.

The Professional Footballers' Association said they were "disappointed" the FA deemed there was not "sufficient evidence" to charge.

Akinfenwa, 38, said white members of Wycombe staff waited a day after the match before they made him aware of the remark, because they were fearful of how he would react.

Speaking in a video published on Instagram, Akinfenwa said: "The FA had an opportunity to stamp this out, to say that there are no grey areas. Wrong is wrong.

"So that it never happens again, this is what we are going to follow through. They chose not to."

The FA commissioned a report from an independent expert in race relations, which concluded the words were not "objectively racist".

Akinfenwa, who at the time said the remark "dehumanises me as a black man", added: "Unfortunately I received a 10 per cent increase of racial abuse on my social platforms.

"I actually don't care about those people that wanted to send or promote negativity or hate. What I care about is the FA.

"The FA had an opportunity to stamp this out and to show a united front. To say, going forward I am going to educate the masses to say that there is certain terminology that cannot be used."

Akinfenwa, who counts Swansea, Northampton and AFC Wimbledon among his former clubs, said the findings do not help provide confidence to those reporting alleged racist remarks being made.

"The FA want us to report incidents and as a father I would say to my kids the same thing, if somebody does you wrong report it," he said.

"But if the system time and time again lets you down, what is there for you to do? How are you meant to feel?"

Wycombe, who went on to beat Oxford in the play-off final, said in a statement: "The club disagrees with the conclusion of the Football Association (FA). The investigation confirms that the language was used. There is no place in sport for such comments."

Fleetwood said in their own statement: "The club have co-operated fully in regards to the matter and welcome the decision of the FA and in particular the independent expert's conclusion that the employee's comments were not objectively racist.

Akinfenwa's statement in response to the FA's findings in full

"Am I disappointed yes, am I surprised no. I already know that talking anything about race is an uncomfortable conversation and I've said this many times, we need to have these uncomfortable conversations and I know race terminology is a trigger for certain people.

"But let me say that I am disappointed with the FA's findings. They basically confirmed that a comment was said but said it could be deemed racist or it could be deemed as not racist, and so they erred on the side of caution of it being not racist.

"I got told about this comment 24 hours afterwards by white members of my football club and they waited 24 hours to tell me because they know how I would have reacted if they had told me on that day. There would have been a bigger backlash and I would have been suspended and they chose to wait 24 hours because they deemed it racist.

"The FA had the opportunity to stamp this out, to say there is no grey area, wrong is wrong so it never happens again but they chose not to. On the advice of my club I lodged a complaint and unfortunately I received a 10 per cent increase of racial abuse on my social media platforms.

"I actually don't care about those people who wanted to send or promote negativity or hate what I care about is the FA. The FA had an opportunity to stamp this out and show a united front and say 'you know what, going forward we are going to educate the masses to say there is certain terminology that cannot be used'. They chose not to.

"The FA want us to report incidents and as a father I would say to my kids the same thing, if somebody does you wrong report it. But if the system time and time again lets you down, what is there for you to do? How are you meant to feel?

"I want to shout out to everybody who has showed support and showed love we have still got to continue to fight we've still got to continue to stay together."