Football Federation Australia have dismissed allegations of racial abuse against Western Sydney veteran and Wollongong junior Brendon Santalab, citing a lack of evidence.
The FFA’s disciplinary committee on Thursday handed down their decision following two lengthy hearings involving both Santalab and Sydney’s FC alleged victim Ali Abbas.
The Sky Blues lodged an official complaint with the governing body after Abbas claimed he was subjected to slurs against his culture and religion during the Sydney derby on March 8.
The committee, comprising John Marshall SC, Lachlan Gyles SC and Dominic Longon, determined that Abbas may have misheard the words uttered by Santalab.
‘‘Brendon Santalab accepted that Ali Abbas genuinely believed that the offensive word had been used and did not challenge the fact that Ali Abbas believed he had been the subject of racial abuse,’’ it said in a statement.
‘‘The credit of Ali Abbas was not under challenge.
‘‘(But) having regard to the circumstances surrounding the incident particularly the undisputed high noise levels and in the absence of other eyewitness or corroborative evidence, it was possible that Ali Abbas may have misheard what was said by Brendon Santalab.
‘‘Therefore the committee was not satisfied to the necessary standard of proof that the offending words were used by Brendon Santalab and dismissed the matter.’’