Ouseley: We don’t deserve Rio jibe

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Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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The head of football’s anti-discrimination body Kick It Out has responded to attacks by Rio Ferdinand in his autobiography by saying it deserves better than to be his “punchbag”.

In serialisations of his book #2sides, which is published on Thursday, the former England and Manchester United defender claims Kick It Out had refused to go into court with the family during the John Terry racism trial involving his brother Anton Ferdinand. Terry was acquitted in court but later banned for four matches by the Football Association for racially abusing the younger Ferdinand.

Kick It Out chairman Herman Ouseley told the Guardian that Ferdinand’s criticism was unfair. He repeated the comments in a follow-up interview with Press Association Sport and added that he held the Football Association accountable for the abuse the family and he himself received over the Terry and Luis Suarez racism cases.

In his book, Ferdinand – now at QPR – writes he initially refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt because “The group had refused to come to the courtroom with us, so I wasn’t willing to go through the charade of wearing their shirt. My parents probably wouldn’t have spoken to me if I had.”

Ouseley told the Guardian: “Unfortunately we are the punchbag for some people and it’s easy to have a punchbag like us.”

He added later to Press Association Sport: “We don’t like being Rio Ferdinand’s punchbag. It was very unfair. I have no hang-ups about being criticised but it has to be based on fair and accurate information.

“I just want to put the record straight. We had someone there with the family in court every day – Anton Ferdinand’s club [QPR] wasn’t there, his union wasn’t there every day, but we were. Was Rio himself even there?

“We gave as much support as we could give, we could not do any more, we had no power to do so. We spoke to the club and the police and had meetings. If the clubs had acted properly in the Terry case and the Suarez case we would not have had all this grief.”

Kick It Out had had a number of meetings with the Ferdinand family before the trial, but decided it could not agree to their request for their staff to wear campaigning T-shirts in court.

Ouseley said he had been happy for Rio Ferdinand and Jason Roberts to later boycott the Kick It Out T-shirts because it was only when people “put their heads above the parapet” that changes were made.

He added: “I want more to speak out and challenge inequality. You only see action when people speak out – it was only when Kevin Prince Boateng walked off the pitch in Italy that FIFA sat up and took notice.”

Ouseley also expanded on his reasons for resigning from the FA Council, revealing it came after then FA chairman David Bernstein refused to issue an apology on behalf of the governing body for the way it had handled the Terry and Suarez cases, and the delays involved.

He said: “I wanted the chairman to issue a full apology. They mishandled those cases and caused so much grief and because he refused to do, I relinquished my place on the FA Council.

“The Ferdinand family were severely abused, I was severely abused – I got hundreds of abusive emails – and they deserved a full apology.

“Liverpool could have been sanctioned three times over the Suarez incident, Kenny Dalglish’s [the then manager] behaviour was appalling.

“Andres Villas-Boas was manager of Chelsea and kept on saying Terry would always be their captain whatever the outcome.

“The FA only did something about him being England captain when they were about to go off to Euro 2012 and the whole thing was incendiary and very toxic. They hid behind the police inquiry but it is the FA that regulates football and the Ferdinand family were given so much grief.

“We have moved on but you have to purge yourself of these errors.

“I think a lot more people have confidence now, at least people know the FA will investigate everything now.”

Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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