The Central Coast Mariners are demanding a public apology from Fox Sports following on-air criticism of a tackle made by their captain, Nick Montgomery, that resulted in a red card during Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.
Montgomery was criticised by members of the network’s commentary team, who inferred that the Mariners midfielder was reckless in his challenge on Wanderers forward Golgol Mebrahtu.
Former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan was especially scathing of Montgomery’s tackle, saying he showed no duty of care towards a fellow professional, particularly one who has worked hard to rebuild his career. Mebrahtu has only just returned from successive knee injuries.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was also furious with the nature of the tackle, but the Mariners issued a statement saying they were flooded with feedback from supporters about the negative television commentary.
“On behalf of our members, players and staff the Central Coast Mariners have today issued a formal complaint to Fox Sports Australia and Football Federation Australia in regards to inappropriate comments against our club and players following our most recent match against Western Sydney Wanderers,” the statement read.
“The Mariners have been inundated with members expressing their concerns and demanding that the club takes appropriate steps to ensure that the integrity of the Mariners and its players are protected against unwarranted and totally unfounded comments.
“This was also raised officially by the club’s supporter groups who recently held meetings with Mariners chairman Mike Charlesworth.”
Central Coast Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said the club felt they needed to act accordingly after such a reaction from their fans.
“When we receive such a clear message from our members that the club needs to take a stance we are obliged to do so,” Mielekamp said. “There are lines that we believe have been crossed and feel a public apology is the most appropriate outcome as the club must stand up for our players who are unfairly targeted. If these comments were made by a referee there would be an immediate fine but seems that those rules don’t apply when talking about a players integrity.”
Despite being contacted by the Mariners, the FFA said they had no position on the issue and believed commentators and fans were entitled to fair and reasonable debate on contentious issues.
“FFA has received a submission from Central Coast Mariners about comments which have been interpreted as unfair towards a Mariners player,” an FFA spokesperson said. “Commentators expressing their opinions are generally not subject to FFA’s jurisdiction. Responsibility for the opinions aired rests with the commentator and the broadcaster.
“FFA does not wish to inhibit the fair and reasonable debate about incidents in A-League matches, as this forms part of what makes the competition so interesting for fans.”
Fox Sports was sought for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.
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