Former Airdrie star Rico Quitongo makes racial discrimination claim against club and director

Former Airdrie defender Rico Quitongo is making a racial discrimination claim against the club.

The 22-year-old claimed in September last year that he was racially abused by a Diamonds fan during a 0-0 draw against Queen’s Park in September, but the New Broomfield club dropped an investigation into the allegation the following month, saying there was “insufficient evidence”.

However, an employment tribual are now investigating the case and Quitongo – who left the club to join League One rivals in January – is being supported by PFA Scotland union and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

His claim also relates to an Airdrie club director.

Speaking to Lanarkshire Live Sport when he left Airdrie, Quitongo made the claim that “his skin didn’t fit” at the club.

He said: “There are some nice, great people at the club and there are loving people at the club as well, but for some people my face doesn’t fit. Or my skin doesn’t fit.

“It’s hard, mentally. You see stuff on social media of fans and what the club have painted a picture of me.

“When you’re not treated fairly it gets taken out of your hands. It’s a shame it worked out this way, but I had to leave.

“It wasn’t my football performances, so it was outwith my control.”

The EHRC are part funding the case through the race discrimination fund and Margaret Gribbon, solicitor at Bridge Employment Solicitors representing Rico Quitongo, said: “Rico is strongly committed to pursuing this legal claim in an effort to ensure that no other footballer experiences what he has.

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“He hopes to effect much needed change, by exposing the gap between anti-racism rhetoric and the realities faced daily by footballers subjected to racist abuse and discrimination.

“He is extremely grateful to PFA Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission for their support.”

Rico Quitongo says Airdrie want to get their hands on the NL Cup
Rico Quitongo joined Airdrie in the summer

Lynn Welsh, Head of Legal and Compliance at the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland, said: “There is no place for racism in football, or any other part of our society.

“As the equality regulator for the whole of Great Britain, the EHRC are pleased to support this case through our race discrimination fund. Every employer should understand their responsibilities, and what the consequences are for not following the law.

“As both employers, and as part of their wider community, football clubs have an important role to play in tackling discrimination.

“That starts with their duty to protect their employees, including the players on the pitch who are too often still subject to racist abuse.”

Mr Quitongo’s representativedate are now awaiting a date for the hearing.

Lanarkshire Live Sport has contacted Airdrieonians FC for comment.

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