British Soccer Club Owner Banned Six Weeks Over Offensive Comments About Jews, Chinese

Dave Whelan, chairman of Wigan Athletic, has accepted charge of racially aggravated misconduct, partly for saying Jews 'chase money.'

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Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, center, giving the thumbs up from the stands ahead of the Sky Bet Championship soccer match at the DW Stadium, Wigan, ENov. 22, 2014.Credit: AP

LONDON - British soccer club owner Dave Whelan was banned from all soccer-related activities for six weeks on Wednesday over offensive comments about Jews who "chase money."

The 78-year-old Wigan Athletic chairman, who accepted an English Football Association charge of racially aggravated misconduct for his comments about Jews and Chinese people, has also been fined 50,000 pounds ($78,000), warned about his future conduct and ordered to undertake a mandatory education course.

“It is clear that he himself is very upset by the words he used and he moved very quickly to apologize publicly, plead guilty and begin to make amends,” the FA commission report said in an excerpt released by Wigan.

Whelan has seven days to accept or appeal against the sanction, which would be suspended until after the outcome of an appeal process. The ban would begin immediately if he decides to accept the punishment.

The offensive comments were made in a newspaper interview defending his decision in November to appoint Malky Mackay as the second-tier club’s manager.

Mackay himself is still being investigated by the FA over a dossier of alleged racist and anti-Semitic text exchanges with a colleague while managing Cardiff. Mackay acknowledged the leaked exchanges were “completely unacceptable, inappropriate,” and the League Managers Association said they were “disrespectful of other cultures.”

Commenting on a text about Jewish people and money, Whelan told The Guardian: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”

Whelan also said there was “nothing bad” about one of Mackay’s alleged exchanges featuring a term widely perceived as being insulting toward Chinese people.

Whelan is a former soccer player who was forced to retire early because of injury and then started amassing wealth through a chain of supermarkets and sports stores, enabling him to finance the purchase of Wigan.