Doncaster Rovers have hit back after angry supporters blasted the club for ‘discrimination’ after it announced it was offering free tickets to Muslim women for an upcoming match.
Upset fans hit out after it was revealed that the club was offering tickets to Muslim women for the game against Walsall at the Keepmoat Stadium on March 30.
But the club has defended the move and says it is part of a series of initiatives aimed at raising awareness of equality and diversity in Doncaster – and said that the project will also reach out to a number of other groups.
The club was moved to issue a statement outlining its plans after several accused Rovers of ‘discrimination’ – while others applauded the move.
A club spokesman said: “Rovers are running several initiatives throughout the month of March in order to raise awareness of equality and diversity within Doncaster.”
The activities will see Rovers support the work of national bodies and campaigns such as Kick it Out, Show Racism the Red Card, the EFL’s Community Day of Action and Fans for Diversity.
On Monday March 18, there will be the latest Rovers Roadshow, where players and club staff will attend schools with a Show Racism the Red Card theme.
All children from the schools will be invited to attend the Sky Bet League One fixture against Walsall on March 30, with a special pitch experience available for those who attend the game.
The club have also invited the refugee team from the Conversation Centre to the Keepmoat Stadium on March 19 as part of the EFL Community Day of Action.
The group, who already train regularly at the Keepmoat, will take part in a football match against existing Doncaster Rovers fans.
In the following week, the club will be hosting its annual Kick It Out themed game and will be revisiting the story of Rovers legend Charlie Williams, one of the first black players in professional football.
At the Walsall game, in addition to inviting all the children who participated in the Rovers Roadshows earlier in the month to take part in a unique pitch experience, the club have also put invitations out to several groups across Doncaster, including mental health charity, MIND, members of the Muslim Women’s Group and other groups.
The spokesman added: “As part of the day the club will be inviting the groups for feedback on how the club can do more to engage traditionally hard to reach audiences to help grow the supporter base of the club.”
Several supporters reacted with fury after hearing the club’s plans to give tickets to Muslim women.
Roberta Morris posted on Facebook: ”How about all women? Discrimination!”
Damian Boulton added: “How about giving free tickets to homeless veterans!” while Tracey Gibbons said: “Free tickets for any Doncaster residents would be fairer.”
Angela Dawn Thornton wrote: “It's a joke why can't it be to all women” and Daz Richo added: “Isn’t this discrimination? Surely free tickets to all.”
Jackie Lane posted: “Hope this a joke. If not. Everyone boycott future matches.”
Zel Mulec added: “Why??? Why not all women?”
But several supporters praised the move.
Ben Thompson wrote: “Wonderful gesture. Amazing for integration of our communities, hopefully engaging more future Rovers fans. Very proud of the club.
Dave Banks wrote: “Great gesture from Donny Rovers #Standuptoracism.”
And Adrienne Pendleton wrote: “Funny how everyone’s moaning cos it’s favouring this particular minority group. If it was for deaf people would they claim discrimination against blind people ?? NO.”