Even for those who feel this is a time when unity is of paramount importance in the fight against racism, the nuances of the Ferdinand-Roberts’ argument need hearing.
Their decision should not simply be construed as criticism of the Kick It Out charity and campaigning organisation – it is a sign of disgust at what they perceive is the authorities’ slowness in confronting racism.
T-shirts seem tokenism to
Yet if Ferdinand, Roberts and others who refused to wear the “Kick Racism Out Of Football” T-shirts looked closely at Kick It Out’s work they would appreciate that the tops are just one part of a strategy to tackle indiscrimination.
This “One Game, One Community” campaign involves a series of meetings, lectures and debates because education is still the key to eradicating racism.
The anger felt by Ferdinand and Roberts is partly rooted in the size of the ban given to John Terry, who was found guilty by an Independent Regulatory Commission of making a racist remark to Ferdinand’s brother, Anton.
The FA is very sensitive about the fact that Terry received only a four-game suspension, effectively decided by a tariff system on the number of times he said the offensive word.
The FA has already indicated that it will look at this tariff and it is felt that any future offences will receive greater punishment.
The FA’s chairman, David Bernstein, who was at White Hart Lane yesterday reportedly wearing a Kick It Out badge, has campaigned strongly against racism.
Alex Horne’s statement about Serbian excesses against Danny Rose was as powerful as it gets from an administrator, even raising the possibility of boycotting games against them.
The problem does not lie with the FA or Kick It Out. The problem on English shores lies with certain players and with certain fans.
Removing the sick minds from the terraces will be impossible.
Where Ferdinand and Roberts need to make their point is during PFA meetings; if this is a player-v-player issue, they need a meeting with Gordon Taylor and some form of player summit to deal with the problem.
At least, their decision not to wear T-shirts has given a new angle on a long-running debate, keeping it in the forefront of the news agenda.