England

Ferdinand hits out at fans' racism

Rio Ferdinand has responded to abusive chants by England fans in last week's match at San...
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Rio Ferdinand has hit out at the fans who sang abusive songs about him and his brother Anton during England's win over San Marino last week.

A number of England supporters joined in the singing of a song suggesting the brothers should be burned on a bonfire - it has been suggested the song had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry.

Anti-racism body FARE on Thursday reported England to FIFA over the chants and the Football Association is awaiting official notification regarding the complaint.

"You expect+accept banter from fans on the terraces as its part of what makes the game great, but racism is not banter, and from ya own fans. WOW," Ferdinand tweeted.

"Always a small minority who ruin it for others.

"Let's not jump to conclusions + assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll see after the investigation."

The Manchester United defender was vilified by fans after withdrawing from the England squad to play the game because it did not fit in with his "intricate" and "pre-planned" training programme, although he then travelled to Qatar to commentate on England's 8-0 victory.

FARE's executive director Piara Powar said on Thursday: "Although we did not have observers at the match we have pulled together evidence sent to us including media comment and have passed that on to FIFA.

"I think that it's one of those things that is very subtle. We would say racism and other forms of discrimination is not always banana throwing and monkey chants. It can be very subtle and the people collating the reports believed it is strong enough to send on to FIFA.

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"From the reports we have seen I personally think there was an undercurrent of race there, and other people have thought that it has been imbued with racist overtones.

"Whether FIFA think that is strong enough to take action is another question entirely and we accept that it is certainly an unusual report."

In a worst case scenario, England could be made to play a World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.

FIFA last week forced Bulgaria to play Malta behind closed doors after finding their fans guilty of racist chants during October's World Cup qualifier against Denmark.

And in January, Hungary were fined £27,800 and made to play a World Cup qualifying match against Romania in an empty stadium after FARE lodged a complaint over anti-Semitic chants by their fans during a match with Israel last August.

Three of England's remaining four World Cup qualifiers are at Wembley, with the first on 6 September against Moldova.

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