Officials investigate fan’s words toward Cal player

SoCal Challenge officials have launched an investigation after a fan allegedly called Cal forward Fardaws Aimaq a “terrorist” during Monday’s tournament game against UTEP, before the sixth-year forward confronted the man in the stands.

“The SoCal Challenge has a strict policy that’s read before each game by the public address announcer against the use of profanity, derogatory comments or other intimidating actions by fans directed at athletes, officials or team representatives,” the tournament said in a statement to ESPN on Thursday. “Any such actions are grounds for removal from the event. Event organizers were made aware of the issue by Cal representatives on Wednesday morning.

“Security has been briefed to strictly enforce the policy and an internal investigation is ongoing related to Monday’s events.”

A video circulating on social media shows Aimaq, who is the son of Afghan refugees and from Vancouver, British Columbia, approaching a fan in the crowd after Cal’s 75-72 loss to UTEP in the West Coast holiday tournament held in San Juan Capistrano. Aimaq can be seen leaning toward the man and pointing his finger at him while he talks to him.

Cal coach Mark Madsen said in a statement Wednesday that Aimaq confronted the fan after allegedly being subjected to derogatory language during the game and after it. He called for tournament officials to investigate and ban the fan from the premises.

Aimaq’s agent, Daniel Poneman, said he witnessed the interaction between Aimaq and the fan, who stayed after the game and continued to heckle Aimaq before the player entered the stands.

Aimaq, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Texas Tech, is averaging 16 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for Cal, his fourth school. He grew up in Canada, where his parents settled after fleeing the Soviet-Afghan War.

Madsen, who is in his first season at Cal, said the language allegedly used by the fan is wrong but also said Aimaq will be disciplined for confronting the man in the stands.

“Fardaws and I had an important conversation today about how he needs to maintain his composure regardless of what takes place in a game or what is said to him directly,” Madsen said in his statement Wednesday. “I am disturbed that Fardaws was allegedly on the receiving end of such language, and I’m disappointed that he confronted this fan in the stands. Fardaws understands my expectations for how he as a student-athlete conducts himself. The consequences related to this situation will be managed internally.”

Cal plays San Diego State on Saturday in San Juan Capistrano.

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