Published: 24 Nov 2022
Footballer Rico Quitongo has been unsuccessful in his race discrimination claim against his former club and a club director.
The claim followed an alleged incident of racism against Mr Quitongo by a supporter during a match in September 2021, and arose from the way the issue was subsequently handled by Airdrieonians FC.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the professional footballers’ union in Scotland (PFA Scotland) jointly funded Mr Quitongo’s case.
Together the EHRC and PFA Scotland are disappointed that an employment tribunal has ruled that the actions of the club and its director did not amount to a breach of the Equality Act 2010.
The Scottish Football Association have initiated their own investigation into Mr Quitongo’s allegations of race discrimination.
Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“There is no place for racism in sport or any other part of society.
“The EHRC supported this case through our legal support scheme, which seeks to improve outcomes for victims of racial discrimination and harassment. We hope that this is an opportunity for football clubs across Britain to better understand their duty to protect their employees and handle allegations in line with the law.
“Sport has an important role to play in bringing our communities together, promoting understanding and fostering respect for difference.
“As Britain’s equality regulator, the Equality and Human Rights Commission stands ready to work with Scottish football to help eliminate discrimination from the beautiful game.”
Margaret Gribbon, solicitor at Bridge Employment Solicitors representing Rico Quitongo, said:
“We are carefully considering the employment tribunal’s 130-page judgment which has obviously left Rico upset and disappointed.
“Rico was strongly committed to pursuing this legal claim to ensure that no other footballer experienced what he had. He is enormously grateful to witnesses who gave evidence of their own experiences of racism and who told the tribunal that they heard him being racially abused.
“This has been a very difficult time for Rico and his family, as he has dealt with the personal and professional impact of what he experienced.
“Rico wishes to thank PFA Scotland and the EHRC for their support.”
Notes to Editors
- PFA Scotland have also issued a statement in response to the employment tribunal judgment, available here: https://pfascotland.co.uk/pfa-scotland-statement/
- The full judgment of the employment tribunal, in the case of Rico Quitongo (Claimant) -v- Airdrieonians FC Ltd (“R1”) & Mr Paul Anthony Hetherington (“R2”), will be published here: https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions
- The EHRC and the PFA Scotland union jointly funded this case. The EHRC part funded this case through its legal support scheme, which seeks to improve outcomes for victims of racial discrimination and harassment by covering the costs of taking legal action.
- Individuals with a race discrimination case can access funding via the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS). Alternatively, legal practitioners can apply for support towards their clients’ cases. For more information visit: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/legal-casework/legal-support-scheme
- Information on what constitutes harassment and victimisation under the Equality Act 2010 is available on our website here: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/what-harassment-and-victimisation