Former Sheffield United Women forward Sophie Jones has vowed to retire from football after the FA imposed a five-game ban over alleged racist abuse of an opponent during a Women's Championship game against Tottenham in January.
Jones was accused of directing monkey noises at Spurs defender Renée Hector during the game and charged with the use of 'abusive and/or insulting words - that included reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race - towards an opponent'.
Such a shame that racism seems to be rising up again in football - I received some monkey noises today from an opposition player. The only reaction was to let the football do the talking and that we did 💙🤩 great start to the year! @ThlfcOfficial #COYSL #SHEvTOT #KickItOut— Renée Hector (@renazzza) January 6, 2019
In addition to a five-game suspension, Jones was also fined £200 and ordered to attend a FA education course, while her contract at Sheffield United was mutually terminated as a result.
Having denied the charge, Jones has continued to maintain her innocence.
Now, instead of looking for a new club, the 27-year-old has revealed her intention to quit football over an apparent disillusionment with the FA.
"I would like to state on record that I do not condone racism in any form and I will continue to stand by this statement," Jones explained in her own statement published on social media.
"I strongly stand firm that I am not guilty with regards to the charge that the FA have brought against me.
"I am struggling to come to terms with this decision and how the FA can come to a verdict based on probability from the two witness accounts verbally given, instead of reviewing the case and its evidence, in its entirety, based on the Sport Law and Practice Second Edition stating 'the more serious the allegation the greater degree of satisfaction required'.
"The FA 'independent' panel received more than 10 other witness statements from players within the alleged incident vicinity including Tottenham players, also all the match officials, all confirming they did not hear any racial abuse and or comments made.
Statement by Sheff Utd’s Sophie Jones - banned for 5 games after being found guilty of racially abusing Spurs’ Renee Hector: She says;— Dan Roan (@danroan) March 20, 2019
*FA hearing was “a kangaroo court”
*insists innocent & is “struggling to come to terms with decision”
*she’s now quitting football pic.twitter.com/E1Y7XzYHQ9
"Video evidence that was submitted clearly showing no issue had occurred in the game had also totally been disregarded by the panel. Audio transcript of the alleged incident was taken to be reviewed and came back clear.
"Two witness statements from Tottenham players continuously contradicted each other. And finally, my barrister was constantly being shut down by the independent panel when trying to discredit the two witness statements. In short, he wasn't allowed to do his job.
"The hearing took place in a kangaroo court. It is with a heavy heart that I feel I am unable to continue within football and play under an organisation that I do not have any confidence in. I would like to personally thank Kevin McCabe and everyone at Sheffield United for their continuous support."