Players from community football club Camden and Islington United (Candi) decided to boycott their Wembley Cup semi-final on Sunday after being subjected to “horrific examples of misogyny” by their opponents, Munter Hunters FC.
Candi holds the Sunday Wembley Cup, but after reporting the issue to the London Football League and the Amateur Football Alliance, they withdrew from the competition after the league refused to postpone the game while the matter was investigated . The league then agreed to a postponement pending the outcome of an investigation by the amateur association.
“Some things are bigger than football,” said Kai-Yen Thomas, the men’s players’ representative on the Candi board. “We have great respect for the over 80 players in our club, the women who coach us and the women who serve on our board. We can’t share a pitch with a team that has such a derogatory presence on social media. We hope the league and the FA resolve the issue immediately so we can get back to playing football.”
Candi knew their league and cup opponents as MHFC, the name under which they are registered in the London Football League and the Amateur FA. The club became aware that the initials stood for Munter Hunters FC when they were tagged in a post containing offensive content on social media before the cup game. Frisky is a derogatory term for someone who is unattractive, typically aimed at women. After further investigation, they found additional offensive content on the team’s public social media platforms.
MHFC said they were in contact with the FA and that they would not be commenting at this time as an investigation was ongoing.
Nick Wigmore, Candi founder and CEO and Sunday team player, said: “We founded Camden and Islington United because we wanted to show that football can and should be done differently. We have over 50% women on our board, we have an equal number of men’s and women’s teams, and we have women training across genders. Likewise, we have coaches, both men and women, of Black and Asian heritage leading the women’s program, which has historically excluded women from global ethnic majorities… This latest incident reaffirms that there is still a lot of work to be done to educate the leagues and to encourage them to take decisive action when they become aware of offensive and discriminatory behavior.”
Candi said in a statement that they would not play against MHFC “until the league demonstrates the willingness and ability to take meaningful action.”
The London Football League confirmed the match had been postponed, saying: “We prefer to await the conclusion of the FA investigation before giving our opinion on this matter.”
The amateur association’s chief executive, Jason Kilby, said it “takes all reports of inappropriate behavior seriously” and is “committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting diversity in our workforce and across amateur association football”.
Kilby added: “We have spoken to the competition and informed them that they are postponing the game while an investigation is completed. As a sanctioned competition, we advise you on the processes involved in applying your competition rules. We adhere to FA regulations when investigating misconduct and are working with the FA’s grassroots disciplinary team as this is a serious case.”
A Football Association spokesman said: “We are working with the Amateur Football Alliance to support their investigation so that the appropriate steps can be taken. “We strongly condemn any form of misogyny, which has no place in football or society , and we will ensure action is taken against any club or individual found guilty of this behavior. Any allegations of this nature are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated in our game.”
Kat Craig, Chair of Candi, said: “We are incredibly proud of the players on our Sunday men’s team and the bond they have shown. Sometimes solidarity requires sacrifice and we are grateful for their support and that of all our players, sponsors, members and the wider community who share this stance. We want football to be a place for everyone and we want these words to mean something. We hope this small gesture will spark positive change.”