/Father ejected from A-League semi-final says he may not take daughter to another game

Father ejected from A-League semi-final says he may not take daughter to another game

Posted

May 14, 2019 19:38:58

The father kicked out of a football match in controversial circumstances has told 7.30 he may not take his football-loving daughter to a game again.

Key points:

  • Rory Carroll says he was escorted out of a football stadium for entering the grandstand to check on a disabled bathroom for his daughter
  • NSW Police have questioned Mr Carroll’s version of events
  • Mr Carroll admits to being ejected from a different stadium in 2017

Rory Carroll was ejected from Jubilee Stadium in Sydney during a game between Sydney FC and Melbourne FC on Sunday.

He claims he was kicked out by police and security staff after entering the nearby grandstand area to check on a disabled toilet for his daughter Mia, who has Down syndrome.

NSW Police have questioned Mr Carroll’s version of events, saying he was trying to access a bar.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) told 7.30 “there are inconsistencies in the account provided by Rory and the four separate incident reports we have from stadium security”.

“We are not in a position to suggest any version is more or less credible then other,” the FFA said in a statement.

Mr Carroll and his family never miss a game when their team Sydney FC is playing.

His 11-year-old daughter Mia is a particularly big fan.

“She’s a massive football fan,” Mr Carroll told 7.30.

“[When there’s a game coming up] she’s talking about it all week. She’s buzzing. She changes into her clothes so that she’s ready to go to the game, sometimes sleeps in her jersey, and is always up for it.

“She’s fantastic to be around.”

Mr Carroll said Mia regularly goes to games at Jubilee Stadium and usually goes to a particular bathroom.

“She’s very comfortable going to that stadium and knows her way around,” he said.

“That’s the usual bathroom that she uses and comfort’s important for a child with special needs. Routine, familiarity, that’s what you want to make things easier for them if it’s possible.

“When you have a disabled child, you’re typically planning ahead of time. In my daughter’s case, I wanted to make sure that that bathroom, which is her usual one, hadn’t been trashed.

“And that’s all I was doing.”

‘I could scarcely believe it’

Mr Carroll said their usual bathroom was located in the nearby grandstand area.

“Just as we were entering halftime, I knew that my daughter was going to need the bathroom shortly,” he said.

“I went down to the gate and I said [to security guards] I need to check something. They said that I couldn’t go. I just asked them to move out of my way, I was going to go and check it.

“They grabbed my arm as I tried to go past them. They let go of my arm and I was OK. I went up and checked the bathroom and when I came back, I was surrounded by — I couldn’t count initially how many police were there … And there was security guards around there as well.

“I had a discussion with them and it was fairly calm, but one of those police officers started getting quite aggressive and shouting at me that I was being argumentative.”

Mr Carroll said the police moved away from him to talk to a security guard. Mr Carroll said he took a photo of them with his phone.

“The moment that I took that picture, the more aggressive of those police officers came rushing back [and] said ‘That’s it, you’re out, you’re being disruptive’.”

“I could scarcely believe it. To be put in that situation where you weren’t doing anything wrong, and to have my children there, for them to be upset, to be crying, and then escorted out.

“I thought, well, you know if it was me, fair enough. I’m a big boy. But when it’s kids around, and it’s clearly something silly, I thought that was a bit absurd.”

Mr Carroll said they then went to McDonald’s and watched the rest of the game on their phones.

He said Mia was “obviously upset about what happened, but being a very positive girl, she’ll get on with things”.

“At this point I’m not sure if I’ll be taking her back to a game again, bearing in mind that there’s a distrust now of security and there’s a distrust of police officers based on what’s happened,” he said.

Police do not believe bathroom story

NSW Police rejected Mr Carroll’s version of events.

In a media conference on Monday afternoon, police said Mr Carroll was escorted from the stadium after he refused to cooperate with “seating protocols”.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton said reports from security staff suggested he was not trying to access the disabled facility, but “that he was trying to enter the grandstand area where there was a greater variety of beer available.

But Mr Carroll told 7.30 he was only drinking soft drink at the game and “whether there was a greater selection of beer or not, my reason for going in there was to check the bathroom for my daughter”.

Police also said they were not heavy-handed in the ejection, with Assistant Commissioner Walton asserting that Mr Carroll “incited the crowd to support him as he was leaving”.

But Mr Carroll said he “did not do anything of that nature”.

NSW Police declined an interview request, but in a statement said it was continuing to make inquiries about the incident.

Evicted before

Mr Carroll admitted he had been evicted from a stadium before — Sydney’s Olympic stadium in 2017.

“I was told to move from a position [where I was] standing waiting to shake a player’s hand. And I said, ‘I’m not moving’,” he told 7.30.

“There was kids and other people waiting and they singled me out. And I said, ‘Look, I’m not moving.’

“At the time, it was a pretty violent exit for me. I was asked to leave by a huge amount of police officers, it was quite absurd, but there I was. I learned a lesson at that time to obviously be careful and to be aware of what’s going on.

“I just was given a notice that said ‘You can’t come back for 12 months’. So I just took that on the chin and said, fine, and I just didn’t go to that stadium.”

Mr Carroll said he is waiting to see what comes out of the FFA investigation into this week’s incident.

“I reserve all my rights and I will be clearly taking action if I feel it is necessary, but for the most part, I’m expecting that the FFA will finally stand up and say this is not good enough. Fans should not be treated like this,” he said.

The FFA told 7.30 in a statement that investigations are continuing.

Topics:

soccer,

disabilities,

police,

sydney-2000,

australia