WPIAL Investigating Claims Over Racial Slurs Used At High School Soccer Game

Penn Hills is accusing Connellsville fans and players of shouting racial slurs at Penn Hills players

September 12, 2018 - 12:06 pm

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The WPIAL is investigating claims that Connellsville high school fans and players used racial slurs against Penn Hills players at a boys soccer game Thursday.

The Penn Hills athletic department submitted a letter of concern to the WPIAL Friday. All athletic contests between the two schools have been canceled as the investigation continues. The league has also requested reports from the Connellsville school district, as well as the referees at the game. 

At a regularly scheduled WPIAL board of directors meeting Monday, the league will decide how to handle the claims, according to WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley.

"If the allegations prove to be true, obviously they're unacceptable, and then steps would need to be taken to ensure that going forward they don't happen again. Obviously, there would be need for in-servicing in education and sensitivity."

At the meeting, the board will determine whether or not to accept the recommendations made by the schools or decide if an additional hearing is needed.

A Penn Hills sophomore on the soccer team told the Tribune Review that members of his team made the officials aware that both Connellsville fans and players were directing racial slurs at Penn Hills' black players. Referees allegedly did not say anything to either team. He also said a Connellsville player directed a racial slur at a Penn Hills player as the team was getting on the bus following the game. 

O'Malley said the referees will be involved in the investigation.

"Game officials will have will have an honest opportunity to respond. Quite candidly, nobody ever likes what the officials do. If you ever go watch any game, everybody questions what they do, how they call, what they call, and sometimes everybody is of the opinion they should do more, or whatever. We'll wait and see what their response is."

While the WPIAL has intervened in conflicts between schools before, O'Malley said this type of complaint is different than what they normally see. He adds schools need to be responsible for enforcing a code of conduct at their events. 

"They're the ones that have to teach their students and the people in attendance how it is that they're supposed to behave. That's their job to do that. With 140 member schools and with all the things that are going on every night, there's a responsibility that they have, and I would like to guess that Connellsville did effectively administer to that game in regard to the presence of game management and supervisors and things, but we'll just wait and see."