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Sheffield Utd Women end Jones' contract after racist abuse ban

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(Reuters) – Sheffield United Women’s forward Sophie Jones has had her contract terminated by mutual consent and was handed a five-match ban by the FA on Wednesday for racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur’s Renee Hector during a game in January.

The FA launched an investigation after defender Hector wrote on Twitter that she had been subjected to “monkey noises” from a Sheffield player in the FA Women’s Championship match on Jan. 6.

Jones was charged by the governing body last month with breaching various sections of rule E3 on player conduct.

“Sophie Jones has been given a five-match suspension with immediate effect after an ‘aggravated breach’ of FA Rule E3(1) was found proven by an Independent Regulatory Commission,” the FA said in a statement

The governing body said Jones, who was also fined 200 pounds and ordered to attend an FA education course, denied the charges against her.

The Sheffield club said in a statement that they do not condone racism or any form of discrimination and that Jones would leave the Yorkshire team.

“Following dialogue between the club and Jones, and taking into account the length of the suspension, it has been decided that her contract, which was due for review in the summer, will be terminated by mutual agreement,” the club said

United added that Jones “maintains her innocence and is disappointed with the FA’s decision”.

Hector tweeted: “There is no place for racism in our game. A zero tolerance policy is imperative in stamping this out from football therefore I welcome this verdict.

“No one should be subjected to racist abuse on or off the pitch and I felt a responsibility to call it out for what it was.”

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies said in a statement: “We welcome the decision made by the FA and that the appropriate action has been taken. There is no place for any sort of discriminatory language or behaviour in football.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out welcomed the decision.

“Verdicts like this underline the importance of calling out discrimination wherever it is heard – in the women’s or men’s game and at any level,” Kick It Out said in a statement.

“We stand with Renee Hector and her team mates and hope others who may face a similar situation will be empowered to follow their lead.”

United visit Spurs in the Women’s Championship on Sunday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris and Christian Radnedge)

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