Charlestown City Blues have been unable to gain a meeting with Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop in their fight to have Azzurri returned to their title.
However, the Northern NSW NPL club, whose battle has prompted an FFA review of the National Club Identity Policy, has had a win of sorts at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Charlestown and members of the Italian community lodged a racial discrimination case against FFA and Northern NSW Football at the AHRC last month. The claim was built on rejection of the club’s attempts to have Azzurri – the Italian word for blue – returned to their name.
Azzurri FC were cut from the NNSWF top division at the end of 2008 and, under pressure, the club merged with Charlestown United and changed their name.
The 2014 NCIP, which banned the use of ethnic, national, political, racial or religious connotations, signifiers or associations in club names and emblems, then blocked Charlestown’s attempts to have it returned. The Blues and their supporters claimed discrimination because other clubs were allowed to retain links to their ethnic foundations.
The Herald revealed Charlestown’s AHRC case, which ended with FFA and NNSWF rejecting a proposal at conciliation. Led by club secretary Roger Steel and long-time supporters Anthony Di Nardo and Roby Valentinis, Charlestown vowed to take their fight to the Supreme Court. They had 60 days to pursue the case before it was closed, but the FFA announced a week later a review of the NCIP by early 2019.
FFA referred to the Charlestown case in the announcement, saying: “Whilst FFA believes that such a challenge is unlikely to be successful, it does serve to support a review of its effectiveness in its current form.”
Charlestown were undecided about their next move given the 60-day deadline but they have since secured breathing room.
“Fortunately, the Human Rights Commission have agreed to keep the case on hold for the time being,” Steel said. “They are going to wait and see if there is success with this review of the NCIP. If not, at the end of that process, they will try to arrange another conciliation.”
As part of a recent submission to FFA, Steel invited Gallop to a meeting to discuss the issue with himself, Valentinis and Di Nardo.
“He gave us a polite reply, telling us they would like us to be involved with the process,” Steel said. “We were impressed that he did respond to us. That was good. We didn’t arrange a meeting. We would have liked that, but it wasn’t critical.”
In another positive for the Blues, the NCIP review has begun. NNSWF invited submissions from NPL, Northern League One and Women’s Premier League clubs on the matter last week.
NNSWF chief David Eland said the request for submissions had also been forwarded to member zones for them to distribute to their clubs.
Submissions are due back by November 2. NNSWF will also soon distribute an online survey.
The memo asked clubs to state their position, at a minimum, in answering the following questions:
- Has the NCIP achieved the stated objects?
- Is the NCIP still relevant and subsequently required?
- Should the policy be retained, revoked or amended?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of retaining or revoking the policy?
- What amendments if any are proposed?
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