PFA back Rio over t-shirt stance
The players’ union have defended Rio Ferdinand’s right to make a
personal protest against the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign.
Ferdinand, whose brother Anton was the subject of racist abuse
from Chelsea captain John Terry last year, did not wear a campaign
t-shirt in the warm-up to Manchester United’s Premier League match
against Stoke on Saturday despite Sir Alex Ferguson saying on
Friday that all his players would.
Ferguson described the incident as “embarrassing” and promised
to “deal with it”.
It is difficult to see what financial sanction could be imposed
on Ferdinand in such circumstances, which instead points to a
private dressing down for undermining Ferguson’s authority.
However, Professional Footballers Association chairman Clarke
Carlisle told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We will definitely monitor the
situation very closely and make sure Rio Ferdinand’s rights as a
human being, never mind as a footballer, are not undermined in this
“Everyone has a right to free speech – just like you can’t
coerce anyone into shaking hands, you can’t make somebody wear a
t-shirt – although I do personally believe that joining in with the
campaign is the best way forward.
“And then for all these players to get together and put what it
is they want down on paper so we together as a union – all the
players, one with another – can make those changes and move
The former Burnley player believes communication is key and
urged Ferguson to follow the examples of Reading boss Brian
McDermott and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew in allowing Ferdinand
to explain the reasons behind his decision.
It was the declaration of Reading striker Jason Roberts on
Thursday that he would not be wearing a Kick It Out shirt after
becoming frustrated by what he perceived as the group’s lack of
action over racism that earned a rebuke from Ferguson.
Carlisle added: “There are two sides to this one.
“First of all, Sir Alex Ferguson is continual in his unwavering
support for the Kick It Out campaign which is commendable and what
we all want to see but you can’t vilify or coerce any individual
for making a stand.
“This shouldn’t be seen as an element of control or defiance –
just like Sir Alex Ferguson said when he was talking about Jason
Roberts in his first interview, he doesn’t know the reasons why
this stand is being made and what we should do first of all is hear
those reasons and listen to them and take them on board.
“Sir Alex Ferguson said he was embarrassed and that is because
of the statement he had made but Brian McDermott and Alan Pardew,
these guys said they had entered into dialogue with their players
and listened to the reasons for them making their stand.
“So I would sincerely hope that Sir Alex Ferguson now speaks
with Rio Ferdinand and asks him why he wanted to make that stand
and hopefully supports the position he is in and it isn’t seen as a
However, former Manchester United defender Viv Anderson believes
Ferdinand was wrong to go against Ferguson.
Anderson, who became England’s first black international when he
played against Czechoslovakia in 1978, does not feel the United
boss should have been put in such a position.
“I don’t agree with Rio,” Anderson told MUTV. “You can see the
manager was fuming and clearly he didn’t know anything about
“He expects his senior boys to set an example. He is the
manager. If he says we are all doing it together, it should be the
end of the story.
“But Rio has gone the other way.
“I don’t see where he is coming from and I don’t know what it is
going to achieve.”
The row comes at the end of the week which has seen the ugly
issue of racist abuse again come to the fore following the scenes
at the England Under-21 match in Serbia.
Former Arsenal and Tottenham centre-back Sol Campbell believes
UEFA now needs to send a strong deterrent to prevent a repeat in
the future, with fines having been issued for similar incidents in
Campbell told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “I think
(UEFA should deduct) points and then after a while when you stop
qualifying for these competitions I think people will start to wake
“If you keep on knocking off six points, nine points, I think
countries are going to start waking up because everybody wants the
chance to play in the World Cup or European Championship.”
Campbell though has little faith in the football authorities,
adding: “I’d love UEFA or FIFA to do something about it but I
honestly believe they’re not going to do anything,” he said.
“I don’t think they’re going to find them guilty, I think
(Serbia) are going to get out of it.
“The government have to get involved, you cannot leave it to
associations any more, it never gets done.”