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

position.

“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

forward.”

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

player-against-manager situation.”

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

it.

“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

the past.

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

up.

“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.”