Racism is not banter, says Rio Ferdinand

Mar 30, 2013, 03:41 IST | Agencies

Defender slams England fans who abused him during the World Cup qualifier against San Marino

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has slammed England fans following reports of racist chanting aimed at him and his brother, Anton. The 34-year-old was targeted for having backed his sibling during the racism row which saw Chelsea’s John Terry retire from international duty last year. And, after anti-racism group FARE reported Three Lions supporters to Fifa over the incident, Ferdinand has condemned those involved.

Rio Ferdinand. Pic/Getty Images.

“You expect and accept banter from fans on the terraces as it’s part of what makes the game great, but racism is not banter and from your own fans? WOW!” he wrote on Twitter. “Let’s not jump to and assume though as it might just have been banter. We’ll see after the investigation. Always a small minority who ruin it for others.”

The 34-year-old withdrew from the England squad for the recent World Cup qualifying clashes with San Marino and Montenegro due to his need to follow a strict training regime.

FA urged to act

Meanwhile, anti-racism campaigners urged England’s Football Association to take action over the abusive chants which seemed to suggest that Rio and Anton should be burned on a bonfire.

The chairman of the Kick It Out anti-racism group, Herman Ouseley, told BBC radio: “Whether it’s racist or not, it’s certainly unacceptable. It’s vile and it shouldn’t be part of sport. Something needs to be done. These are the supporters of the England national team who are travelling abroad and singing songs like that. What messages does it send out about the type of people we are and who we represent?

“The FA should be taking a stance on this about the people it wants supporting the England team, the image it wants to send abroad.”

Ouseley, a former head of the Commission for Racial Equality watchdog, said he had already contacted the FA and called for an investigation. “FIFA will determine (whether it is racist) but clearly we can take a stance on that. We have policies on anti-racism, homophobia and all other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Why are we so quiet about it?” he added.

Meanwhile, the FA insist it is taking the matter seriously, but they have yet to be able to verify the claims of racist chants.

“While we have no reason to dispute the media reports which are without doubt made for the right reasons of fighting racism, at this time we have not found any recorded evidence of the specific discriminatory chanting referring to Rio and Anton and the vile ‘bonfire’ song,” said Club England managing director Adrian Bevington.

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