A pensioner has been charged with a hate crime after allegedly racially abusing a footballer in the Highlands at the weekend.
The 84-year-old is said to have made racist remarks towards a Huntly FC player during their 0-0 draw with Keith at Kynoch Park on Saturday.
Huntly officials, including the vice-chairman and head of youth development, reported the incident to the Keith chairman.
The game was then stopped so it could be brought to the attention of the referee who subsequently included it in his match report and police were also informed.
The Highland League later issued a statement urging “good people to stand up and be counted” and put an end to the “worrying trend” of racism in the region.
The statement said: “The Highland League has always prided itself on its inclusiveness, its role in the communities in which it exists and its acceptance of diversity.
“However, recent weeks have seen a worrying trend with instances of racial abuse occurring at SHFL matches.
“This is completely unacceptable and has no place in the Highland League or, indeed, anywhere.
“The message is quite simple to those who use such language – you are not welcome at Highland League matches, or matches anywhere, so stay away as you have no place in a modern society.
“To all Highland League supporters – be aware of this issue and point out anyone who resorts to racist language.
“Remember – for bad things to survive, all that’s needed is that good people do nothing. It’s time for the good people to stand up and be counted.’
Police confirmed the charge on Monday.
A spokesperson for the force said: “We can confirm that an 84-year-old man has been charged in connection with a reported hate crime, which took place at Kynoch Park, Keith, on Saturday.
“A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
The incident came just three days after Huntly had reported one of their players being racially abused against Nairn County.
A statement released by Huntly FC on Saturday said: “Our club secretary sent an official complaint by email to Keith Football Club about this racial abuse.
“Our club has a duty to protect all of our employees from all types of discrimination. We have an absolute zero tolerance to all forms of such abuse.
“We apologise wholeheartedly to the players who have been targeted in two separate incidents this week of sickening abuse.
“Racism is completely unacceptable in any form in any part of society. As a club we stand resolutely with our players and we will continue to support them and their teammates.
“Racial abuse is abhorrent and such episodes highlight the responsibility we collectively have to work harder to eradicate such abuse and punish the perpetrators.
“We host Deveronvale on Wednesday evening and plan to highlight the Give Racism the Red Card message to further raise the profile of this problem prior to kick off.”