Connellsville, Allderdice trade allegations of racial slurs, homophobic comments
The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League will investigate whether “homophobic comments” and “racial slurs” were uttered during a game between two high school boys soccer teams on Labor Day.
Pittsburgh Allderdice High School parents wrote a letter outlining allegations that said two of their varsity soccer players were “goaded … with racial slurs” during a Sept. 1 match against Connellsville Area High School.
Early Tuesday, the Connellsville school district issued a prepared statement that read, in part: “ … the district deplores the types of homophobic comments allegedly made by Allderdice players toward a Connellsville soccer player.”
WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said Tuesday that WPIAL was aware of Connellsville’s counterclaim and it will be investigated as well. He said WPIAL knew about the anti-gay slurs before Monday’s scheduled meeting and before Connellsville issued the statement.
Sumaya Mahmoud said her son was one of the Allderdice soccer players who was called a racial slur.
“No child should be subjected to this kind of thing,” she told the Tribune-Review. “Mentally, they’re impressionable and vulnerable. I’m worried about how that affects his confidence.”
O’Malley said WPIAL plans to have a hearing that will bring in Connellsville and Allderdice “principals, athletic directors, head coaches and select soccer players in an attempt to establish what very well may have happened.” A date for the hearing has not been set.
Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said Monday in a prepared statement he is aware of the incident, and the administration has filed a complaint with WPIAL.
Tim Witt, Connellsville’s solicitor, spoke on behalf of the school district. He said the district immediately began investigating all claims upon hearing about them.
“(Connellsville) denounces racism and emphatically maintains that racism in any form has no place in our civil society, much less in educational settings in the classroom or on the playing field. … The district takes every allegation of racism or homophobia seriously and is committed to addressing all such claims,” the statement read.
Through Witt, the school district declined to answer additional questions regarding the use of homophobic comments.
Mahmoud’s son, a 16-year-old Allderdice junior, is black and plays as a midfielder for the varsity soccer team. She declined to identify him.
“My son said that nearing the end of the game … he and another player were going after the ball, they were challenging for the ball. The Connellsville player challenged for the ball with his foot and my son went down to the ground. As he was getting up, the Connellsville player called him a (racial slur) and walked off,” Mahmoud said.
She said her son did not react to the use of the word and reported it to his coach after the game. Mahmoud said she was not at the game.
The mother is worried about her son’s self-confidence after being the target of a racial slur – something the family experienced while living in Canada before moving to Pittsburgh 2½ years ago.
When asked about Connellsville’s charges that an Allderdice player directed homophobic comments at a Connellsville player, Mahmoud said there was “very inappropriate physical touching” during the game.
When pressed for specifics, Mahmoud declined to comment and referenced the letter parents wrote about the incidents.
“The Connellsville team also utilized forms of physical touching likely intended to distract or intimidate, which were beyond the bounds of appropriate conduct during a soccer match,” reads the letter.
Margie Minkler said her son, whom she declined to identify, was the second Allderdice soccer player who was called a racial slur. Her son is 17 and a senior. He is of Hispanic descent and also plays as a midfielder for the school’s varsity soccer team.
“There was a foul given for somebody doing something to him, physically. Preceding the foul, somebody called him a degrading anti-immigrant slur. He reacted. It was the type of thing said often to provoke people,” Minkler said.
The slur is particularly derogatory to people of Mexican descent.
Minkler said her son was given a red card and ejected from the game for his reaction, which she described as causing “high energy tension on the field.” She declined to provide specific details.
“He was very distressed and angry – and shocked,” Minkler said of her son. “From the stands, it was hard to see what actually was going on.”
Minkler said “anything is possible” when asked if Allderdice players could have directed homophobic comments at a Connellsville player in response to the inappropriate touching that was alleged.
She declined to answer further questions about the use of homophobic language.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .