Ferguson: No issues with Rio over T-shirt dispute

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has settled his public

dispute with Rio Ferdinand following the defender’s refusal to

promote an anti-racism campaign, blaming a ”communication

problem” for the rift.

Ferguson accused the experienced center back of ”embarrassing”

him by declining to wear a T-shirt in support of the ”Kick It

Out” anti-discrimination campaign, having told the media his whole

squad would don the tops before the Premier League match against

Stoke on Saturday.

However, Ferguson backed down Monday, saying ”I’ve spoken to

Rio. I think there was a communication problem. He felt I should

have spoken to him on Friday and I obviously didn’t anticipate that

he’d have a problem wearing the shirt.

”As the manager of a club, you lay down policy and you don’t

want to see it ignored,” Ferguson added. ”That’s where my anger

came from on Saturday. But we’ve resolved the situation, there’s no

lingering problems and we move on.”

Ferdinand was one of many Premier League players to boycott the

Kick It Out action this weekend, as a protest against a perceived

lack of strong action taken by organizations in recent high-profile

racism cases.

The Football Association, which partly funds the Kick It Out

campaign, punished John Terry with a four-match ban and fine after

finding the Chelsea defender guilty of racially abusing Anton

Ferdinand – Rio’s younger brother – during a Premier League game

last October.

Many believe that sanction, together with Liverpool striker Luis

Suarez’s eight-match ban for repeatedly racially abusing United

defender Patrice Evra in another on-field incident late last year,

was too lenient.

”My advice to him (Ferdinand) was that I always feel a union is

stronger than an individual,” Ferguson said. ”It’s important he

airs his grievances to the right people, to the PFA (Professional

Footballers’ Association) or the FA.”

Ferguson said Ferdinand will not play against Braga in Tuesday’s

Champions League match at Old Trafford – but stressed it had

nothing to do with their dispute over the weekend.

”We have a (Premier League) game on Sunday against Chelsea and

it’s a big one for us,” Ferguson said, ”so I’m leaving a couple

of players out (Ferdinand and Evra).”

Chelsea and United are the top two teams in the league after

eight games.