After some back and forth on social media about an incident that took place at a scrimmage game back in May 2019, we feel compelled to release this statement to clarify the situation and our policy regarding abuse in general, and racism in this case in particular. We believe people have the right to know the facts and the responsibility to make informed decisions.
An incident came to our knowledge by an attending representative of ours (not on duty), a racial slur from a player towards a referee. We found the conduct complained of was unacceptable and we filed an official report. The disciplinary committee proceeded then to gather the information from the parts involved.
The referee affected stated she did not hear the insult but she was informed of it by our representative. The words were said in a foreign language that our representative speaks. The player actions were from a considerable distance from the person who reported the behaviour (official was sitting in the bleachers while the player was on the players' bench).
A recording of the game was analysed but it was deemed inconclusive as the words were inaudible. The player claimed this was a misunderstanding, and that no racial slur was used. He commented that he used foul language at himself in his native language to express his frustration. No further evidence could be provided by the accusant as no one else spoke the language.
As a result of the investigation, the committee resolved to suspend the player, as no foul language should be used in the court. Due to the lack of evidence, no penalty could be inflicted on the basis of racism/racial slur. The Committee made the decision upon advice by Basketball England and its pertinent rules. We believe that seeking guidance from the governing body is the right way to treat challenging incidents like this one. The report was also sent to Basketball England for revision.
In light of this incident, we updated our rulebook and instructed the players and officials to use the English language as a common language when taking part in a game in order to avoid further issues. We added an external member to our disciplinary committee for the official league games. We didn't turn anyone down who wanted to contribute to the case and we didn't discard any of the reports submitted. LBN also extended an official invitation to be part of the disciplinary committee to some of the people who expressed concern about the incident.
Respect is one of our pillars and we won’t allow anyone to challenge that. That also means giving everyone the chance to manifest their side of the story when things are not clear.
We started this league in an effort to run things differently and create a wholesome community. Having experienced unprofessionalism and disrespect in the industry, we always strive to make things better.
We listen to every voice and complaint; formal reports are solved; teams were and are involved in decision making. We are proud of how diverse our basketball community is. We work together with charities, all our organising staff are volunteers (no one apart from the refs and table officials is being paid), we work with venues, providers and associations that back charities and promote equality as part of their work, and we do everything in our power to provide good quality service to our players and officials. We will continue to let our actions speak louder than our words.
We believe we took every step necessary with the seriousness and diligence that this sensitive subject required. We are sorry that the outcome of the investigation was not satisfactory for all of the parts involved. We hope this throws some light on the issue, as there was a lot of misinformation, such as been accused of having deleted comments on social media when that did not happen.
We are committed to learning from any mistakes we might have made during this process and we will never stop trying to improve our organisation. We are open to suggestions to help us and the sport move forward in every aspect.