A FOOTBALL club has been slapped with a misconduct charge after the team walked off the pitch during a match when one of their players was racially abused.

As reported, reserve teams from Bridport and Gillingham were in the second half of extra time during a match on Saturday, October 9, when one of the Gillingham players was racially abused by a spectator supporting Bridport.

The incident, which was described as ‘disgusting, abhorrent and horrendous’ by the Bridport manager, prompted the entire Gillingham team to abandon the game to show their support for the abused player, and their contempt for the comment that had been made.

Despite the nature in which the game was abandoned, Gillingham have now been handed a misconduct charge by the Dorset Football Association (FA) for 'removing themselves from the field of play and being unwilling to continue with the match'.

The club will now face a fine, which could be anything from £0 to £150 depending on what the FA commission deem is appropriate, and the misconduct charge will remain on Gillingham's record.

In a letter sent to the club, Dorset FA wrote: "Gillingham Town are hereby charged with misconduct for a breach of FA rule E20 in respect of the behaviour of its players, spectators and/or club officials in the above fixture.

"It is alleged that during the fixture Gillingham Town players removed themselves from the field of play and were not willing to continue with the match. As a consequence of this the match was abandoned.

"If the case is found proven, when reaching any decision on sanction, the commission will consider any aggravating or mitigating factors and refer to the FA sanction guidelines."

Paul Hill, secretary at Gillingham, was 'shocked and angry' to receive notification of the misconduct charge.

He said: "I was absolutely not expecting this - as far as I'm concerned, we're the injured party. It is almost as if the FA is condoning racism if they expected us to continue playing and are disciplining us for not.

"I am quite shocked by it and quite angry. The poor player who was abused to now have to find out that the club could be fined because the team supported him is awful.

"In theory, we could be charged £0, but a misconduct charge goes onto a file and if you get a certain amount of them you receive a letter of warning and could be called up in front of a panel to explain why you've had so many.

"It's shocking to be charged for misconduct for trying to deal with a racism situation."

Dorset FA has been contacted for comment.

Police launched an investigation to find the man who allegedly racially abused a Gillingham player and, last week, a 74-year-old man attended a voluntary interview. No arrest was made and the investigation remains ongoing.

The charge comes amid huge national pressure for bodies to do more to kick racism out of football, with players up and down the country continuing to take a knee before games as a symbol of anti-racism.

Dorset Police is urging anyone with any information to contact them via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55210163978.

Alternatively those who wish to remain anonymous can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.