LONDON (AFP) –
Rio and Anton Ferdinand are set to support the ‘Kick It Out’ anti-racism campaign by wearing the equality group’s t-shirts ahead of their clubs’ Premier League matches this weekend.
Reading striker Jason Roberts admitted on Thursday that he will refuse to wear the t-shirt — given to all Premier League players to highlight the evil of racism — because he believes the Kick It Out group didn’t do enough to push for a stronger punishment for John Terry.
Chelsea defender Terry starts a four-match ban this week as punishment after being found guilty of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, despite previously being cleared of the same charge in a court case.
Although Roberts is keen for other black players to snub the anti-racism campaign, both Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and his brother will wear the t-shirts according to their respective managers.
QPR manager Mark Hughes said: “That is my understanding, I have not been told anything different. I fully expect everyone to wear the t-shirt.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said all players should back the campaign and he added: “I have to disagree with Jason Roberts. I think he is making the wrong point.
“Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick it Out warm-up tops. I don’t know what point he is trying to make.”
Asked about the racism issue, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, himself often the target of vile chants, believes all insults must be eradicated.
“It is not only racism, black and white, it is against all kinds of insults we still have in the stadiums. We must fight more against it,” he said.
“You look at some faces when you walk around the pitch, what they shout at you is scary. That is, for me, racism.
“You are insulted because you are not in their clan. That is a kind of discrimination.”
Meanwhile, the Football Association have been strongly criticised by the head of European anti-discrimination body FARE for their handling of the Terry case.
Piara Powar, executive director of FARE, said the FA had allowed the case to drag on for far too long, had not provided enough support to Anton Ferdinand and had not rebuked England manager Roy Hodgson for making supportive statements about Terry.
It is the second high-profile case in the English game, with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez banned for eight matches last season for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
“What the FA did with Suarez was absolutely the right way to deal with the situation but with Terry it took too long, the punishment was inconsistent with the Suarez sanction, and the mess included inappropriate statements from the England head coach, who basically seemed to support him,” Powar said.
“That went without comment or sanction by the FA. To have their most high-profile employee getting involved in such a significant and important issue as this was wrong.”