A GROUP of football players  shared highly explicit photos and made derogatory comments to a female member of staff, an FA disciplinary panel has found.

The chairman of Malvern Town says lessons will be learned after the football club’s female physio was subjected to ‘highly sexual and derogatory’ comments by members of the team.

Chairman Chris Pinder was responding after an FA disciplinary panel found that explicit photos were also shared in a Whatsapp group that included the former female physio.

Mr Pinder apologised after the FA found the club had not taken seriously accusations from the female physio, who we have decided not to name, of sexist behaviour and comments.

The FA judgement, available on the Worcestershire FA's website, states that on March 5 this year, a Zoom call was arranged with 25 participants including Mr Pinder and first team staff Dene Whittall-Williams and Lee Hooper.

Some first team players and under-18s squad members were also involved, as was the physio, who has since left the club.

The participants were playing a game via an app on their mobile phones which involved the participants voting on a favourite answer.

The app randomly generated a question about the female member of staff saying "If she entered a Miss America pageant, what would her talent be?"

The report states: "The majority of the answers provided by some of the participants were of a highly sexual and derogatory nature."

The report goes on to say that the various comments resulted in "lots of laughter" with neither Mr Pinder or any of the first-team managers intervening to stop or object to the behaviour.

By this stage, Mr Whittall-Williams was no longer in the Zoom call and had left.

It continues: "In fact, when she attempted to inform the participants that their behaviour was offensive and amounted to sexual harassment, she was ignored and talked over.

"Later on, in response to the comments, the chairman Mr Pinder tried to make excuses for the players' unacceptable behaviour by stating that they were good lads but “pretty basic.”."

She subsequently left the game and the Zoom call shortly afterwards.

When the game re-started, she discovered that she had been added without her permission to a WhatsApp group containing a smaller group of people than the Zoom call.

When she opened the chat, she discovered that "highly explicit" photos and videos of male genitalia had been posted and showed in the chat.

Mr Pinder apologised on behalf of the club, saying he wanted to apologise, first and foremost, to the member of staff directly.

He said: "The behaviour on that evening was unacceptable and the handling of the complaint fell short.

"As the senior football club representing our town, we recognise our role and responsibility to improve the environment for women in sport.

"We accepted the charges and continue our endeavour to ensure a whole club culture where women feel safe and supported by the predominantly male players, coaches and club staff.

"In March, before the outcome of the FA investigation, the club instigated a new code of conduct to include a section on female safety and put better updated overall policies in place.

"It has been a catalyst for expediting positive change at the club.

"For example, this season saw the relaunch of the Women’s team, who operate with the same zero-subs policy as the men’s team and are already a great success."

Mr Pinder said that although the club accepted the charges they disputed some facts in the report.

Specifically he said the WhatsApp group where the indecent picture was posted was set up following the Zoom call as part of a Donkey Derby game.

Membership of that group was limited to three players and the former physio and did not include himself, or first team managers Lee Hooper and Dene Whittall-Williams.

“In fact,” he said. “We were not aware of the WhatsApp group or the picture until five months later when the FA sent us the evidence pack.”

Tariq Hussain, chairman of the disciplinary panel, imposed the maximum fine against the club of £250 as well as 22 penalty points.

He added in his report that if he could have imposed a higher fine, he would have done so.

In addition, the club including Mr Pinder, the first team managers including Dene Whittall-Williams and Lee Hooper, the players who participated in the Zoom call and Marg Scott, football secretary of the club, have all been told to attend an online FA Education Course.

Player James Febery, who posted the indecent picture, has been fined £100 for bringing the game into disrepute over his involvement in the case.