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Soccer-Sydney derby racial abuse claim dismissed

Reuters

* Disciplinary committee not satisfied with proof

* Sydney FC, Abbas "extremely disappointed" (Adds Sydney FC comments)

SYDNEY, April 10 (Reuters) - A Football Federation Australia (FFA) disciplinary committee has dismissed a complaint by Sydney FC midfielder Ali Abbas that he was racially abused in last month's match against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Iraq-born Abbas, who became an Australian citizen in 2012, reacted angrily after an exchange with Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab during the derby clash and had to be restrained by his team mates.

Abbas claimed comments were made about his religion and ethnic background but after two lengthy hearings, the committee was not satisfied the "necessary standard of proof" that Santalab had used the "offending words" had been reached.

The FFA statement said Santalab accepted that Ali Abbas genuinely believed he had been racially abused and the committee was not challenging the midfielder's credibility.

It continued: "Having regard to the circumstances surrounding the incident particularly the undisputed high noise levels and in the absence of other eyewitness or corroborative evidence, it was possible that Ali Abbas may have misheard what was said by Brendon Santalab."

Sydney FC said both the club and Ali Abbas were "extremely disappointed" with the committee's decision.

"Ali stands by the comments he made after the game and Sydney FC fully support him in this," the club said in a statement.

"We would like to reiterate that we believe racial vilification has no place in football or in society.

"The last few weeks have been very testing times for Ali through which he has shown great strength of character and continued to perform to his best."

Ali Abbas converted a penalty to seal Sydney FC's 3-1 victory in the March 8 match, which attracted a crowd of 40,285 to the Sydney Football Stadium. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Editing by John O'Brien)

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