LONDON (AFP) –
Brothers Rio and Anton Ferdinand released a statement on Wednesday expressing disappointment with the football authorities’ efforts to tackle racism in the game, but pledging to help find a solution.
Anton was racially abused by John Terry in a match last year and although the Chelsea captain was recently given a four-game ban over the incident, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and Football Association (FA) have come in for criticism.
Both Manchester United’s Rio and Anton of Queens Park Rangers took part in a protest last weekend that saw a number of high-profile black players refusing to don anti-racism ‘Kick It Out’ T-shirts prior to Premier League games.
They claimed that the campaigning organisation, partly funded by the PFA and the FA, was not doing enough to tackle discrimination in the game, but the Ferdinands have now vowed to “work with football’s existing organisations towards the betterment of the game”.
“It has been a year since the incident (between Anton Ferdinand and Terry) at Loftus Road,” read the statement.
“During that time, some of the deep divisions that exist in football have been exposed. In the coming months there will be ongoing discussions, we are sure, on finding a way forward.
“We intend to participate in these discussions, along with numerous other current and ex-professionals of all races, from the grass roots upwards, across the football community as a whole.”
The statement added: “On the issue of Kick It Out, we would like to go on record to say what fantastic work they have done in the past regarding education and awareness.
“However, times change and organisations need to change with them. We are more than happy to join the discussion, privately, to make Kick it Out more relevant in its fight to stamp out racism in football.
“Although we have been left disappointed by the PFA and the FA’s actions over the last year, as a family, we are committed to working with football’s existing organisations towards the betterment of the game and to achieve immediate action.”
Kick It Out reacted to the Ferdinands’ comments with a statement of their own, in which they promised to step up their drive to push racism out of the sport.
“Kick It Out very much welcomes this statement,” it said.
“We know and recognise the hurt that many people have gone through over the last 12 months, none more so than the Ferdinand family themselves.
“We will continue to work across the campaigning and diversity agenda with all partners to ensure the grievances of players are concluded fairly, thoroughly and swiftly.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the PFA published a six-point action plan to combat racism in the sport.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has called for stricter punishments for racial abuse, including making it a potentially sackable offence, and wants culprits to be obliged to attend awareness programmes.
The plans also include an initiative to introduce a form of the ‘Rooney rule’, which was introduced by the NFL in the United States in 2003 to ensure qualified black coaches get a place on interview lists for job vacancies.Published 25 Oct 2012, 01:02 IST