The Electric City FC men’s team issued a statement on and off the pitch on Wednesday night.
In the men’s first home game since a racial slur was allegedly hurled from the stands against a visiting player in a women’s game on June 15, the men and their opponents from BVB IA Waterloo took a knee for the 12 opening seconds of their Ontario League1 Premier Division game at the Fleming Sports Complex.
It was the only subtleties exchanged between the teams. ECFC were a hostile host, beating the visitors 3-0 in a foul-filled game with seven yellow cards.
ECFC extended their unbeaten streak at home to 4-0 in the evening, their overall rating to 4-4-2 while Waterloo slipped to 4-6-1.
Players from both the men’s and women’s teams of the ECFC condemned racial slurs of all kinds through a statement and the men also made a public statement by taking a knee.
“It’s mostly solidarity,” said CCFCS goaltender Quillan Roberts, one of several visible minorities on the men’s team. “We know what happened in the game (June 15) on the women’s side, unfortunately, and as a community I feel like we can’t stand it, so we took a knee to show this position.”
“It’s all part of the united movement against racism that we’ve had for the past week or two,” said Cavan native Josh Penello, who shared the 50/50 match with Zach Hayden-Ellis who was returning from injury. “There is zero tolerance for this on and off the pitch. We wanted to make sure the fans knew it, the league knew it and everyone knew it.
ECFC chairman Rob Jenkins said L1O had officially declared the June 15 game a 1-1 draw. That was the score when the Simcoe County FC players left the pitch in the 88th minute.
L1O commissioner Dino Rossi said the league was continuing to investigate the incident and gather information. A public statement will be made when the league completes its investigation and determines if any sanctions are forthcoming.
On the field, the men put on a dominating performance. Jordan Brown gave them a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals two minutes apart in the first 26 minutes. He put in a low shot from goalkeeper Yoel Kebreab after a loose ball presented itself. He then hit a ball near midfield over the keeper’s head to make it 2-0. Brown then sent a pass that Ethan Gopaul placed under the crossbar in the 80th minute.
ECFC head coach Randy Ribeiro says the men have spoken at length this week about how they need to play if they want to succeed. What he saw on the ground was exactly what they concluded was needed.
“It was a different team tonight,” Ribeiro said. “They played with a lot of passion. That’s not to say there wasn’t passion, but there was more and it was very evident. I am satisfied with the courage they brought.
Penello’s tough challenges exemplified that courage.
“We came out with a goal and found it pretty much from the first minute,” Penello said. “At the end of the game we had to dig in a bit for the result, but I mean 3-0, you know the other team is going to push, so I think we did well to close it out.”
The men go in search of their first road victory on Saturday against Hamilton United (6-4-1) at Ron Joyce Stadium at 8 p.m.
The ECFC Women (7-5-1) were also in action on Wednesday night, claiming a 4-0 win over bottom-placed Burlington SC (0-13-0). Kayla McQueen scored twice while Aysia King and Holly O’Neill added goals in the second half. Breanne Carreiro got the shutout in her first start for the ECFC.
The women return home Saturday to face NDC-Ontario (7-0-4) at 3 p.m. in Fleming.