A WORCESTER footballer who claims to have been subjected to racist abuse has blasted the “ridiculous” punishment dished out to a fellow player.

Zaqib Hussain, then of Pershore Town, raised the complaint against opponent Sam Hunt at half-time of a 2-0 defeat to derby rivals Malvern Town in an FA Vase replay on Tuesday, September 3.

Hunt acknowledged he had called Hussain 'prince', something Hussain, who is of Asian descent, regarded as a reference to the boxer Prince Naseem Hamed.

Hussain, who has since joined Worcester Raiders, claims Hunt then laughed at him and used direct racial abuse, something Hunt vehemently denies.

The incident, which allegedly took place three minutes before half-time of the cup match played between two teams from English football’s 10th tier, was flagged up with referee Ian Butler by Hussain and then Pershore’s management at half-time.

The match official reported it to the Worcestershire FA which then referred it an FA Disciplinary Commission in line with standard practice for discriminatory allegations.

Hunt faced two charges, improper conduct including foul and abusive language and improper conduct aggravated by a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

He denied both but each was deemed proven with Hunt given a six-match suspension and a £75 fine.

“Is that all it is? I didn’t know that, it is ridiculous,” said Hussain when told about the sanction.

“I am not really bothered about the fine, I just think he needs to be punished. I don’t think it is right but there’s not much I can do about it."

On the incident itself, Hussain said: “I went over to the ref and he (Hunt) said ‘no, no, no, he’s heard it wrong. I said prince, nothing else’.

“I was angry but didn’t want to get myself sent off, I told Pershore’s management and they told the ref. He already knew and said he would put in a report.

“The Malvern management said ‘we know he hasn’t said that’ but I said no one else could possibly have heard it.

“What confused me was (at the hearing) he (Hunt) agreed with everything other than the last thing he said – why say it if you’re going to go back on it?

“When I left the room he said he wanted to apologise if he had offended me – why would he apologise if he was just saying prince as a random word to use?”

Hunt, who confirmed he would not be appealing the decision, said: “The Worcestershire FA only gave me the ban for saying ‘Shut up, prince’. Zaq has taken it as Prince Naseem and in a racial context.

“Someone on the panel agreed with that and I got the ban. I did not say anything else.”

Asked why he had used that term, Hunt replied: “There was no racial intent or context on my behalf, it just came out of my mouth in the heat of the moment.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you. I didn’t see it as a racist thing, I wouldn’t do that intentionally.

“I just want to forget about it now, I have to deal with the punishment.”

Malvern secretary Margaret Scott said the referee’s report to the FA confirmed he had "not heard anything”.

She added: “All of the players have to sign a code of conduct before they sign on. We try everything we can to prevent anything like this happening.

“We feel it was a misunderstanding between two players that got blown out of proportion.

“If there had been a witness you wouldn’t mind but taking one person's word against another worries me.

“I do fear it could open the floodgates if people think they can bring a charge with no witnesses and it will be found proven,” he added.

Pershore manager Les Jones declined to comment.

Worcestershire FA's representative said no comment would be made ahead of receiving a written report from the FA.