Marvin Bartley has hit out at Tam Cowan over the radio presenter’s reaction to the row over alleged racist abuse of Hibernian player Jair Tavares at a game against Dundee United.
The Livingston assistant manager has accused Cowan of “bullying” over comments made on his BBC Radio Scotland show Off The Ball and a string of social media posts.
Bartley had originally condemned abuse heard coming from the away end during the game played at Tannadice in October, saying “to hear someone shout this and abuse someone for their skin colour breaks my heart”.
The 36-year-old also said he has listened to the clip “multiple times” and urged football authorities to take action.
After an initial investigation by both clubs suggested that the shout was “derogatory rather than racial”, Cowan used the radio show to criticise Bartley and asked him to come on air to apologise before posting a string of screenshots on Instagram mocking the former Hibs’ player’s remarks.
But on Tuesday, Hibs revealed that an independent investigation by an audio expert found the shout aimed at Jair Tavares was indeed of a racist nature.
And Bartley has hit back at Cowan with a lengthy Twitter post, saying: “Tam I really can’t believe you went on national radio and peddled out lie after lie.
“You attacked me and started a narrative on the back of an ‘inconclusive’ original outcome into something that has now been proven to be racist.
“Why did you feel the need to attack and bully me personally on this subject, so much so you went away from the truth and so many guidelines that the BBC have in place to stop things like this happening.
“Do you have any idea what that pain feels like to hear someone racially abused who looks like you? You don’t realise your words cause sleepless nights, have people abuse others on the back of listening to you, have people approach others in public, on the back of your words.
“You will never understand the pain, or maybe you do but you just don’t care.
“You’ve tried and tried to get a reaction from myself and Eilidh [Barbour] ever since she walked out of the writers awards for comments made by an after dinner speaker that were racist to the Japanese players of Celtic and insulting to all from their country, sexist to every woman in the land and homophobic too.
“On the back of this what did you do? You said she couldn’t take a joke.
“You know no boundaries and if you think you have to be horrible to others to get a laugh, clearly you’re not that funny.
“You will never deter me from standing up for what I believe is right, against all forms of discrimination.
“I will fiercely defend my partner and anyone else who is bullied when all they’re doing is trying to make the world a better place.
“I’ll give it to you, your words did get to me and cut extremely deep and had a negative effect but now I will use this as energy to help others who don’t have the support network that I do around me.”
In a statement released on his Instagram page on Tuesday, Tam Cowan apologised for any upset caused.
He said: “Hibs have now clarified that there was indeed a racist comment at their game against Dundee United in October.
“This, of course, is new information and if I had known this from the outset I would have been the first to call it out, personally and on national radio.
“It’s absolutely abhorrent that this happens inside Scottish football grounds and I hope the culprit is now dealt with appropriately.
“In the light of this new evidence, I apologise for the upset caused.”
Hibernian said that the club has a “zero-tolerance approach” on all kinds of racist and discriminatory abuse, which it described as “completely abhorrent” behaviour.
“It has no place at Hibs, in the game, or in wider society”, the club stated.
Supporters have been asked to come forward by Hibernian if they witnessed the incident.
The club has said that if the individual is identified, they will face the “strongest action” from the club.
The statement concluded: “Hibernian FC is proud to have players, staff and supporters from a number of different backgrounds and cultures, and will continue to work alongside all other clubs up and down the country to ensure that all forms of discrimination are kicked out of the game.”