Withrow: Edgewood mocked refugee team members

Posted: 3:20 PM, Sep 30, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-30 15:20:35-04

CINCINNATI -- Withrow University High School's soccer team -- known as a haven for students with international refugee backgrounds -- is calling its opponents Monday night "ignorant."

Before the start of the non-conference game at 7 p.m., the hosting Edgewood Cougars played "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King over a speaker system, according to tweets from the Withrow 'Les Tigres' Twitter account.

According to the Withrow team, the music was demeaning.

Last year, the boy's team had only one U.S.-born player on the roster, and the girl's team was made up completely of refugees who came from Latin America and Africa, according to the coach.

The team's twitter account took the song as a major slight.

Some Edgewood soccer players, parents and coaches responded to Withrow, and said "The Circle of Life" is regularly played at the start of Edgewood home soccer games.

Edgewood Athletic Director John Thomas said "The Circle of Life" is one song on a large playlist, and has been played since Edgewood's first home soccer game of the season.

"There was no intent to cause harm to Withrow, their fans or their athletes," Thomas said. "This is the first time that any complaints have ever been brought to our attention. If Withrow interpreted it in an offensive way then we apologize."

Thomas said Monday night's game between Edgewood and Withrow included "perfect, polite play by Edgewood," who he said received no calls of unsportsmanlike conduct against them.

He said the referee called unsportsmanlike conduct against Withrow during the game, but he could not elaborate on any possible "dirty plays" by Withrow.

Withrow High School's Athletic Director Darren Braddix said he did not want to comment on the matter, but he has been in contact with Edgewood and wants to resolve the issue internally.

Jerry Snodgrass, Asst. Commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, said the high school sports commission has been in contact with Edgewood and Withrow school officials and soccer coaches.

He said he cannot discuss the status of any potential complaints or repercussions.

Over the last year, other local schools in the Tri-State donated cleats, soccer balls and other equipment to Withrow's Les Tigres teams, who have not been able to provide cleats or uniforms for their entire teams and don't have the financial backing from parents that most schools enjoy.

Kings, Glen Este and Amelia high schools all donated equipment to Withrow teams prior to team matchups this season.