Rio calls for zero-tolerance stance

Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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Former England defender Rio Ferdinand says FIFA and UEFA have “let football down” by failing to eradicate racism.

Ferdinand was responding to the shameful incident in Paris this week in which Chelsea supporters prevented a black man from boarding a train while chanting: ” We’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”

The ex-Manchester United man, now with QPR, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that “complacency” has allowed racism to prevail and reiterated those comments in a column for the Sun on Sunday.

But he wrote: “To be fair to the (Football Association), they have done more than most to try to eradicate racism from the stands.

“We are the standard-bearers. It’s not like going to parts of Eastern Europe when you would be thinking to yourself ‘what are we going to get here?’. Even those people who are racists here tend to go into a stadium and turn the mute button on for 90 minutes.

“But the game as a whole has to take a zero-tolerance approach. For years it’s been clear than FIFA and UEFA have shied away from doing what they needed to do. They have let football down time and time again.”

The incident at the Richelieu-Drouot Metro station, which occurred ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League game against Paris St Germain on Tuesday, was captured in mobile phone footage, which Ferdinand views as a positive development.

“The good thing to come out of what happened is that it showed how society is now so full of camera phones that to think you can get away with that sort of behaviour is crazy,” he wrote.

“Social media platforms help identify people. Anyone who acts like this and gets caught will be embarrassed when they go to work now.

“But we need to find a way of weeding out the people with these ignorant feelings and help educate them. Just punishing them is not enough.”

Professional Footballers’ Association trustee Brendon Batson called for assault charges to be brought after the man, identified in media reports as Souleymane S, was physically as well as racially attacked.

Batson told BBC Radio Five’s Sportsweek programme: “This guy on the Paris Metro was assaulted, he was pushed violently a couple of times, and I think if there are any criminal laws to be enforced then that should be done as well.

“I was very shocked when I saw the pictures and extremely upset, not just for the individual concerned but for football in general because I thought those days were long gone.

“Within stadiums, they just don’t have a voice, these people – I wouldn’t even call them supporters – but it manifests itself in what we saw in those pictures from Paris. I think there’s a totally different behaviour (when fans go abroad) because they know they can’t get away with it over here, that’s for sure.

“We get very upset when we see our teams, particularly the black players, being subjected to that sort of language when they play abroad.

“Now we’ve got people travelling, supposedly under the culture of Chelsea, spewing out that sort of language. It is extremely embarrassing, very upsetting, really disgusting, it doesn’t paint British football in the right light and we know that 99 per cent of supporters are better than that.”

Published: Sunday 22nd February 2015 by The News Editor

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