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‘There was a part of me that felt sorry for him’ - Wexford hurler Lee Chin on the man who racially abused him

Wexford captain was the target of racist comments during a challenge game last year but is now focused on Leinster championship

Lee Chin would rather be talking about hurling, but at the same time he understands the importance of keeping a light focused on certain topics beyond championship structures and puckouts.

In April of last year, Chin was the target of racial abuse during a challenge game between Wexford and Tipperary in Carrick-on-Suir, resulting in the abandonment of the match.

It was the first time he had experienced racially charged comments during an intercounty match, though at club level Chin had encountered issues in the past.

The 31-year-old says racism is not something he has experienced often in his everyday life. But he is aware the subject remains a broader current cultural issue and does not believe much has changed in society in relation to the matter over the course of his lifetime.


“Where are we? Look, all I can say in my own experiences is not a whole lot has changed from when I was younger to now. It still tends to happen,” says Chin.

“I will be honest, it has never happened to me, and not that it should, but I’d like to state that it never happened to me during a senior intercounty game [before last April] at all, it’s never happened.

“Obviously, we know a number of years ago that it happened to me in a club game back home and at various different times. But if you’re asking the question, are we in a different place? From what I experience at times, no.

“It’s not something you think about daily but when it happens, it’s disappointing to hear. Obviously, speaking about it does help and there are probably a lot of other people out there that experience it a lot more than I do, and then there are probably people out there that don’t experience it at all.

“You kind of have to try to be there for the people that are experiencing it and maybe don’t know what to do.”

Chin hasn’t spoken about last April’s incident until now, as much out of sympathy for the perpetrator – who subsequently received a 48-week ban from the GAA – as anything else. The incident was captured on video and circulated widely online afterwards.

Chin says the man did contact him to apologise.

“There probably was a time I was going to talk about it but there’s never a right or wrong time either, and last year I just kind of let it flow over me because it was just a time that I wanted to let it slide for the minute,” he continues.

“I received an apology from the man himself and we’ve exchanged phone calls since to talk about it. Obviously with what he said he was getting heat from it too and I just didn’t think it would have helped with me coming out and having a go everywhere as well.

“Look, there was a part of me at the time that felt sorry for him as well, he has a family of his own and what happened was unfortunate but sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment and they’re not intentionally meant with any great malice.”

It shows quite a degree of empathy on Chin’s part to be so understanding.

“I was quite conscious of him, I genuinely was, even my family were. We would be that way inclined at home and we were conscious of his feelings and how things can end up for him. I remember the phone call I had with him and he was very sorrowful and he couldn’t apologise more.

“We had a good conversation and I left the phone call wishing him well and letting him know that I had no hard feelings towards him and stuff, things like that I hope were helpful towards him.”

On the field, Chin hopes to be helpful to Wexford’s Leinster SHC campaign over the coming weeks. Chin missed the latter stages of the league because of a hamstring injury, but he has returned to training in advance of Sunday’s provincial championship opener against Dublin in Wexford Park.

Chin believes such hamstring problems are a consequence of a posterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered during the Super 11s in New York in 2019. Surgery was recommended for the grade two tear at the time, but Chin opted against going under the knife.

“The consultant I had at the time, he did recommend surgery on it, a full reconstruction of the knee. But he just thought with the age that I was, the PCL reconstruction can sometimes take up to two years recovery, and he just thought, ‘Look, I’d be possibly ending your career here if I was to do a full reconstruction’.

“That’s why we decided not to go with it and just take the rehab route and hope for the best.”

Chin acknowledges by taking that path it leaves some open-ended questions as to how the knee will hold up after his playing career.

“It is something that I did obviously speak in depth with my consultant about,” continues Chin. “What are the implications down the line later in my life. Am I going to be in a spot of bother here?

“Look, they are not answers he can give me. Everyone is different, some lads might react different to it. Who knows? Hopefully when my playing days are over that I won’t have too much of an issue with it. But if it is, surgery is probably something I will have to look at.”

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