Police have disputed a father’s claim that he was kicked out of a soccer game for trying to take his disabled daughter to the toilet.
Rory Carroll claimed he and his three daughters were escorted from Jubilee Oval, southern Sydney, during an A-League game between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory on Sunday night.
He claims a group of ‘power-tripping’ security guards and police officers forced his family to leave after he tried to take his daughter, who has Down syndrome, to a toilet in a restricted area.
However, New South Wales Police said Mr Carroll was trying to get into the grandstand area of the stadium to buy ‘full-strength beer’.
NSW Police assistant commissioner Mark Walton said the grandstand area was the only place at Jubilee Oval where full-strength beer was sold, and that Mr Carroll was trying to get into the area despite it being reserved for Melbourne Victory fans.
‘That man (Mr Carroll) that has been tweeting today, I am confident from the advice I got he was trying to get into the grandstand on his own,’ Mr Walton told 2GB.
‘He pushed past the marshals and security and that attracted security and police attention. Ultimately he went back to his seating area where due to his behaviour he was asked to leave.
‘As police and security we are very sensitive to the needs of the disabled and I am confident if there was a need for a disabled person to go into an area where they didn’t have a ticket for a proper purpose, they would be facilitated.’
Mr Walton said Mr Carroll was the only member of his group who was asked to leave, but he took his family with him.
Footage of the incident showed a group of police officers and security guards surrounding Mr Carroll as his worried daughters looked on.
As the officers questioned Mr Carroll, who was visibly upset, fans could be heard booing in the background.
‘Are you serious?’ Mr Carroll asked the officers.
‘The disabled toilets, because my daughter needs it are right there and they won’t let me take my daughter through.
‘That’s what this is all about.
‘You guys want to kick me out because he said so (pointing at security) and I can’t take my disabled daughter five metres.’
Writing on Twitter after the incident, Mr Carroll said his daughter was ‘traumatised’.
‘If a young girl with special needs is not allowed to climb ten steps to the toilet she uses every other week, then what can I say?,’ he wrote.
Soccer fans took to social media to condemn police for their actions.
‘The cops are currently kicking a father and his three children out for trying to take his disabled daughter to the bathroom,’ Tom Miles said.
‘He was trying to get though a gate that’s been open all season. Security grabbed him. He then tried to go back to his seat and 10 cops showed up and kicked him out!
‘This is a fantastic look for football Australia,’ he added sarcastically.
NSW Police said that when they first spoke to Mr Carroll in the restricted area he was by himself without his daughter.
‘During an A-League game held at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah this evening (Sunday 12 May 2019), a male spectator was spoken to by security about seating protocols,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Despite repeated requests, the man was unwilling to co-operate, and police assistance was sought.
‘The man was spoken to by officers and after further refusals, was escorted from the stadium with his family,’ they said.
Many fans tweeted their sympathies to the family, with one writing: ‘Please tell your daughter she has the entire A-League behind her’.
Mr Carroll posted a note to Twitter criticising the actions of the officers and revealed that his daughters were in tears as they left the stadium.
‘My daughter had not stopped talking about it and got dressed into her [Sydney] FC gear after she finished her game this morning. Unfortunately that’s not how our night ended,’ he said.
‘I had to console crying girls, and put up with multiple police cars monitoring my movements as we exited the stadium.’
Mr Carroll, who is a passionate soccer coach and referee, said the actions of the police were over the top.
‘Enough is enough. Our stadium tonight was filled with first time security guards, some clearly on power trips,’ he said.
‘Myself and my family were surrounded by a phalanx of armed police, with officers holding their hand to gun holsters.
‘I know that some of those police officers did not wake up this morning expecting to be coming down so hard on 10-year-old troublemakers, but absurdly here we are.
‘The question I now must ask myself is why bother taking my family to our stadiums?’