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UoN Men’s Football Team Banned From Varsity 2015 Following ‘Initiation-Style Behaviour’

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU) has confirmed that disciplinary action has been taken against the Men’s Football team, following a breach of the Union’s Code of Conduct. As a result, all members of University of Nottingham Football Club (UoNFC) have been banned from representing the University at Varsity 2015.

The decision has been made following an event in October 2014 and the presentation of evidence which led the SU to believe that ‘initiation-style behaviour’ occurred.

Impact has learned that the team’s appeal against the initial decision has been rejected and a number of sanctions have been enforced.

Following the decision, both the team as a whole and individual members faced a number of sanctions, including being made ineligible for the 2015 Varsity football fixture, removal from position and being handed suspended sentences.

A Students’ Union disciplinary panel ruled that the team had broken a section of the Code of Conduct related to how social events are conducted and organised. The policy document states that clubs must hold ‘ethical and non-degrading’ social events and ‘should not use initiation events’.

Following the decision, both the team as a whole and individual members faced a number of sanctions, including being made ineligible for the 2015 Varsity football fixture, removal from position and being handed suspended sentences.

The Men’s third team captain has been removed from his position with immediate effect and UoNFC’s President has had his removal suspended until 31st March 2015.

The Varsity fixture will still go ahead, however the squad for the University’s Men’s Football team will now be made up of players from the Intra-Mural Sports (IMS) leagues.

The men’s third team captain has been removed from his position with immediate effect and UoNFC’s President has had his removal suspended until 31st March 2015. This will mean that he will remain in his position, on the condition that he adheres to the sanctions put in place and does not breach the Code of Conduct in the future.

Collective disciplinary sanctions include mandatory attendance for all committee members at refresher training, alongside ten hours community service and a suspended fine of £1500.

“The SU would like to make it clear that it takes reports such as this seriously and follows a consistent disciplinary procedure to prevent this from happening”

Examples of community service given by the panel include supporting the running of IMS events and working with the Student Volunteer Centre.

It was also confirmed that all community service must be completed by 15th May 2015.

Kiri Madhani, UoNSU Sports Officer, told Impact: “The SU would like to make it clear that it takes reports such as this seriously and follows a consistent disciplinary procedure to prevent this from happening.

“We hope the student body can recognise that behaviour resulting in breaches of the code of conduct is not acceptable or appropriate. The decision was made in partnership with the UoN Sport department and the club have been informed”.

The disciplinary action follows a similar incident in 2013, which resulted in the Men’s Rugby Union team being banned from all team activities for a period of two months and their removal from the 2014 Varsity series.

Jacob Bentley

Image: Nottingham Trent University

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Update 1pm 12th Jan: Response from UoNFC:

Following an incident that occurred last year, there have been a number of sanctions imposed upon the men’s football club by the Students’ Union. These sanctions have been extensive, ranging from conditions such as the undertaking of voluntary community service, to the decision to remove our first team from competing in the Varsity fixture against Nottingham Trent. Whilst the club will not divulge the intricacies of the case, we feel it is important that the student body are made aware of our current stance. In relation to the punishments imposed upon both the club and the committee, we feel that they have been extremely excessive and are not in keeping with the punishments of other clubs within the university, who have been deemed to have committed far worse offences. The club believes that being made an example of is an understandable form of deterrent, however this deterrent loses considerable value when it is not consistent and applied in the same manner to all clubs who are alleged to have committed offences. Although it was deemed that a breach had occurred, the facts of the case were far from straightforward. This is reflected in our attempts to appeal the original decision and subsequently this right to appeal being accepted by the Students’ Union . Although the appeal lodged was largely unsuccessful, the club felt it crucial to convey our views to the appeals panel and pursue our right to defend ourselves.

With regards to Varsity, the club are aware of what this fixture means to the vast majority of the student body, and as such we are devastated that we will no longer be able to perform due to an isolated incident. Representing your university at Varsity is what makes 7am training sessions, constant fitness tests and hours of devotion to the club worthwhile, and to have this taken away is extremely disappointing. The knock on effects of this are also severe, with Nottingham Trent losing a fixture against the men’s football club that they undoubtedly relish, as well as the club no longer being able to participate and support an event that raises both money and awareness for charity.

Nonetheless, the football club will now look to the future and attempt to finish the season strongly. There is a fantastic spirit within the club, from the newest members who have settled in incredibly well, to the more senior members who continue to be exemplary in their leadership. This has, and always will be a key feature of our club. The club hopes that this statement provides some clarity on our position at the current time and our disappointment regarding recent events. We would also like to ask that the pursuit of statements from members within the club is avoided during this busy exam period, with which we wish the entire student body the best of luck.

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3 Comments on this post.
  • Fun Police
    9 January 2015 at 21:07
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    A statement from the Students Uni aimed to clarify their position,
    “As an SU we take our commitment to stop people enjoying themselves incredibly seriously, and will stop at nothing to act upon any reports of people having fun whilst at university. People might get the impression that all we do is moan and decry people trying to have a good time, but they don’t realise that we actually spend a lot of time planning ways to punish people who don’t do university in exactly the way we would like, and that takes untold man hours and requires that every member of the SU commits to being incredibly boring at all times. It’s a big commitment, and one that we as super serious SU life police take incredibly seriously”

  • JB
    10 January 2015 at 00:50
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    This seems very, very over the top. Don’t like the way the SU is going…I remember when it use to be fun!

  • Anon
    11 January 2015 at 18:39
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    If there is any indication that the initiation was not optional, then I fully support the ban. Nobody should have to be forced to drink or whatever else. Equally if someone not from the society was somehow caught up in initiation activities (e.g. unwanted sexual contact legitimised by the familiar “for the bants m8” excuse) a ban is understandable.

    BUT if the Union is banning the society from Varsity just because an initiation took place, despite the fact that everyone involved consented to whatever initiations consist of, then the Union is guilty of sanctimonious pontificating. Which it often is anyway…

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