Angus Chance took a stand against racism and was “smashed to pieces” for it — by his own teammate.
The young Sydney footballer was playing in his Dulwich Hill team when he heard teammate Nathan Bowden-Haase yell “f***ing Japanese c***s” at three players trialling with the team in a training session in May 2018.
The 20-year-old told Bowden-Haase to “grow up and stop being racist” before the then 34-year-old punched him, breaking his jaw, dislodging his teeth and leaving him in hospital for weeks.
Mr Chance was said to be “smashed to pieces” in the brutal attack that’s left him with no feeling on areas of his face two years later.
Bowden-Haase was charged with assault and grievous bodily harm and sentenced to 20 months’ home detention in late 2018.
But Mr Chance’s family, those close to the case and supporters are outraged nothing more has been done and that the man who was awarded Football NSW’s under-20s player of the year just a year earlier has not received any compensation — or a single phone call.
The matter is being pursued in a civil case that’s already understood to have cost the family a six-figure sum in legal fees.
Despite attempts to recoup medical costs through Football NSW’s insurer, Mr Chance has not received a cent.
He is pursuing Bowden-Haase, their former coach, the club and Football NSW as part of the civil suit.
His father, Chris Chance, said he just wanted justice for his son.
“My son did the right thing by others on the sporting field but he paid the ultimate price,” he said.
“It has been a terrible time for our family.”
Tim James, the executive general manager of the Menzies Research Centre, who has been advocating for the family, said it was “stunning” that no-one from Football NSW had reached out to discuss, let alone resolve the matter.
“Who do they think they are?,” he said.
“Aren’t they accountable to players, families and communities who give so much to the sport?”
Mr James said he couldn’t get a response from Football NSW chief executive Stuart Hodge despite multiple attempts.
“This is a fundamental moral and ethical test for Football NSW,” he said.
“Will they do the right thing and show understanding and support for a player who stood up to racism and was coward punched, or will they not?”
Mr James said the organisation’s silence was deafening.
“Some sports and their sporting bodies, such as the AFL, are taking racism and violence seriously while Football NSW is kicking this ball around and it’s destined to be a massive own goal if they don’t move very soon,” he said.
“Millions of football parents, families, volunteers and players will judge Football NSW very harshly if there is no justice for this young man. He’s been wronged on many levels and Football NSW should be part of the solution, not sticking their heads in the sand.”
Lawyers for Mr Chance allege his soccer club exacerbated his injuries by failing to call an ambulance after the assault.
According to the statement of claim, a club representative arranged for a teammate to drive Mr Chance home while he “was obliged to hold his bleeding and broken jaw and teeth in position as best he could” in the passenger’s seat.
Mr Chance’s mother took him to hospital where police were called.
It’s alleged a club representative called Mr Chance to request he “not disclose the true circumstances” of the incident at hospital and that his teammates were banned from speaking to him in the months following the incident.
Mr Chance also alleges that in the months leading up to the attack he had complained to his coach about threatening messages sent to him by Bowden-Haase in a team WhatsApp group.
The claim states that the coach did not take “any necessary, appropriate and reasonable action” in the lead up to the assault.
Football NSW said in a statement that it could not comment on the matter at this stage because it was subject to court proceedings.
The matter is set for mediation later this month.