Durham University men’s Athletic Football Club forfeit matches following disciplinary action

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Durham University has taken disciplinary action against all members of all three teams of Durham University’s men’s Athletic Football Club (DUAFC) following behaviour at a club social event. 

In a letter to stakeholders, the University has called the behaviour “disappointing”, though did not disclose any specific details of the social event.

DUAFC’s three teams have been prevented from playing in the first two BUCS (British Universities and College Sport) fixtures of Epiphany term, and must forfeit these matches. Members of the club’s Executive Committee have also stood down from their roles.

Palatinate has learned that the behaviour of the club’s members at a club social event was “in clear breach” of the University’s Code of Conduct, according to a letter sent to the University’s stakeholders from Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and Student Experience, Jeremy Cook.

The letter continued, “All University sports teams are briefed annually on our Sporting Code of Conduct, our values and the standard of behaviour that we expect.

“They [DUAFC] know that where we consider there has been a transgression of our code and of our standards we will investigate and take appropriate action.”

“We are determined to eradicate these behaviours from student sport at Durham”

Jeremy Cook

The University continued to explain that all executive members of University sports clubs must undertake training and education in “inclusive and respectful club cultures”.

“We are determined to eradicate these behaviours from student sport at Durham,” the letter said, “We believe that the measures we have taken underline this commitment and that it sends a strong message to our student community that breaches of the Sporting Code of Conduct and our stated values will not be tolerated.”

All members of the men’s football club will attend refresher training on the Sporting Code of Conduct alongside “further action” to reinforce the University’s values. Palatinate has also been assured that students involved in DUAFC have been provided with ways in which they can seek student support.

This statement was supported by BUCS, with Joanna Coates, Interim Chief Executive Officer, saying: “BUCS have a zero tolerance policy with reference to poor cultural behaviours. Sport should enable positive, safe and inclusive environments for all. We will support the University staff team with any further education they choose to undertake with their football clubs to move positively forward.”

On 12th January, DUAFC issued a statement via their social media reading:

“In response to the club sanctions imposed by Durham University: We are, of course, disappointed to receive such a ban on playing. The two game ban for each team will have a detrimental impact on the season.”

The statement continued by confirming that the club’s partnership with Durham United will “continue to flourish” and they will finish their season for them as normal, thanking the club for their continued support. Durham United is the amateur football club in partnership with DUAFC which allows DUAFC players to play in the Wearside League Premier Division. The side sit fourth in the table in search of promotion to Northern League Division 2, part of the semi professional league system (step 6).

The statement went on to say: “We are extremely proud of everything football club has achieved and will carry on to grow and develop the program we can offer. A further comment will be made by the club once all investigations are complete. We ask that our members’ privacy is respected at this time. No further comment will be made at this stage.”

The club’s Instagram comment section was filled with various heart symbols from players of the club with former DUAFC player and current Team Durham President Alex Zimaras commenting on the post with: “Excellent club which has achieved so much and had a massive impact on hundreds of alumni and current students.”

Image: Thomas Tomlinson

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