Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jacob Steinberg

Anton Ferdinand urges FAs to suspend games over racial abuse

Anton Ferdinand at Kick It Out’s 30th anniversary event.
Anton Ferdinand at Kick It Out’s 30th anniversary event. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

Anton Ferdinand has called on governing bodies to assume responsibility and suspend matches when players are subjected to racial abuse.

The former West Ham and QPR defender believes players will be at risk of further vitriol if they take matters into their own hands. Ferdinand argued that intervention from the authorities would have greater impact and revealed that he has urged Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the Football Association, to take more responsibility when it comes to fighting discrimination.

“I’ve had an open conversation with him,” Ferdinand said. “It’s down to them to do it. I came from a player’s perspective. I’ve been racially abused more than once on the pitch. As a player, if someone racially abuses us we’re not walking off the pitch. It’s not in us to do that. We’re paid competitors. The thought process is: ‘If I walk off, they’ve won. I’m one of the better players, they want me to go off. They’ve won.’

“I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it’s the way we’re wired as footballers. It can’t be just the player’s decision to walk off the pitch. If I’m in that changing room here at Wembley and Gareth Southgate’s going, ‘Who wants to walk off?’ I’m not putting my hand up because I know what’s coming. You guys [the media] are going to find out who said they don’t want to go out on the pitch and what’s going to happen to that person? They’re going to get abused.

“Whereas if Mark Bullingham goes in the dressing room and says: ‘Gareth, the players aren’t going on and we as the FA are going to make a statement that says we drew the players off, it was nothing to do with the players,’ that’s when we’ll start to see change.”

Ferdinand, speaking at an event to mark the 30th anniversary of Kick It Out, football’s anti-discrimination charity, was involved in one of the most controversial episodes of alleged racial abuse in the history of English football. During a Premier League game between QPR and Chelsea in October 2011, John Terry said the words “fucking black cunt” to Ferdinand. Terry was acquitted in a criminal trial but he lost the England captaincy and was found guilty at an FA disciplinary hearing.

Kick It Out’s chief executive, Tony Burnett.
Kick It Out’s chief executive, Tony Burnett, has spoken on the shortage of black managers. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

Ferdinand was critical of Kick It Out at the time but he said his relationship with the organisation had improved. However he said the FA and Kick It Out had more work to do to support victims of racial abuse.

“I think a lot of victims still end up feeling like the perpetrator,” he said. “I must say the support is much better now, with the likes of Troy [Townsend] and other members of Kick It Out around. But in football and society, if you ask people who have been racially abused nine times out of 10 they will tell you they end up feeling like the perpetrator. That’s got to change and that comes back to the top.”

Kick It Out marked its anniversary by releasing a report to underline the positive impact it has made on the sport. But the charity’s chief executive, Tony Burnett, hit out at the lack of black managers in the game.

“Whilst we rightly celebrate what we’ve done, we should also acknowledge we’ve only made marginal progress in the pathways for black players to become managers,” Burnett said.

“In fact, in the last 12 months we’ve gone backwards, with the loss of Patrick Vieira, Darren Moore, Keith Curle and Kolo Touré in the men’s game, and Hope Powell in the women’s game. Meritocracy in most areas of our game is sadly a myth. Talent is distributed evenly. Opportunity is not.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.