Albion Rovers striker David Cox walked out of his side’s game at half-time after claiming to have been mocked for his mental health struggles – and has said that he is quiting football.
Cox was on the substitutes bench for his side’s League Two match against Stenhousemuir on Thursday evening when he had a verbal clash with opposition player Jonathan Tiffoney.
The 32-year-old, who has spoken openly in the past about his troubles with depression and anxiety and how he contemplated suicide several years ago, alleges that Tiffoney taunted him over his problems.
In a video posted to Facebook after the game, he said that Stenhousemuir’s “bench” had abused him, with Tiffoney saying that he should have “done it right the first time”.
Cox, who began his professional career in 2008 and has played for nine different clubs, has said previously that abuse from fans and players had made him consider giving up playing.
“We were having a to-and-fro with the bench,” he said . “They had a go at my mental health and told me I ‘should have done it right the first time’.
“I tried to speak to the referees about it but they didn’t want to know because they didn’t hear it … So I am going to do something. I am leaving the game.”
Tiffoney described reports that he attacked Cox’s mental health as “simply untrue”.
In a statement released through his lawyers, Bannatyne, Kirkwood, France and Co, on Friday, Tiffoney added: “Throughout the first half of the game, I was subjected to abuse and disparaging comments from the Albion Rovers dug out. I did not react to these.
“David Cox, who was a substitute and not playing, was booked by the referee for entering the pitch and abusing me. I did not abuse him. His abuse of me took place in front of the linesman. Had I made the comment, which it has been said that I made, then it is inconceivable that it would have not been heard by the linesman.
“Having been personally subjected to disparaging and hurtful remarks as a player for many years, I condone any such practice.
“I would never attack another player’s mental health or wellbeing and will fully cooperate with the Scottish FA investigation into this matter.”
Albion Rovers issued a statement after the game saying that they stand behind Cox.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone associated with Albion Rovers is of paramount importance to us,” a spokesperson said.
“Football is a place for all and we believe it should be enjoyed without fear, favour or prejudice.
“We are aware of an alleged incident that occurred during this evening’s match and have been in touch with David Cox to offer our unconditional backing and support.”
Stenhousemuir said that Tiffoney was also making a complaint about inappropriate language.
A club statement read: “The club is aware of a verbal altercation that took place between players from both Stenhousemuir and Albion Rovers during tonight’s match.
“We have spoken to the players involved, David Cox (Albion Rovers) who was on the bench, and Jonathan Tiffoney (Stenhousemuir) who was playing.
“Both players are making claims of serious and wholly inappropriate comments being made during the game that have implications for player wellbeing and mental health.
“Whilst we accept that things can get said during a game, we believe the allegations are sufficiently serious enough to merit a more detailed investigation.
“We will be referring this to the Scottish FA tomorrow and will work with them and our colleagues at Albion Rovers to investigate the incident.”
The governing body has confirmed that it is looking into the events.
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