Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Black stars 'reluctant' to complain

Gordon Taylor told a parliamentary committee that players who stand up against racist abuse face a torrent of abuse on websites

The head of the footballers' union has raised concerns that black players are reluctant to complain about racism in the wake of the rows about John Terry and Luis Suarez.

Gordon Taylor said those standing up against racist abuse risked a "torrent of abuse", particularly on social media websites.

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association cited Manchester United defender Patrice Evra's complaints about Suarez - who served an eight-match ban - and the "Liverpool reaction" in defending its player against the allegations.

Mr Taylor said it had also been difficult to demonstrate that the game was imposing discipline itself when the FA had been told to "hold its horses" on the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand case while police investigate.

Speaking to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, he said he had received abuse for speaking out about racism. "If there is going to be such a backlash it could set back the process of complaining, which is the process by which we can measure whether this is going on," he said.

"The last thing I want after this season's incidents is for black players to not feel comfortable with the process, that if they do make a complaint that it won't be addressed properly."

He said police and clubs were having to take allegations of racism more seriously but added: "I also feel there is an element of belief among my younger black players that it's still 'hmm, I can make a complaint but...'.

"There's been a worry that the Terry-Ferdinand incident hasn't been dealt with yet, there's been a worry about what happened with the Liverpool reaction."

FA chairman David Bernstein said he agreed "absolutely" with Mr Taylor, although he was careful not to comment directly on specific clubs or players. He suggested clubs should be more "introspective" about such matters.

Lord Ouseley, chairman of the anti-racism campaign Kick it Out, said football clubs need to take tougher action against players who misbehave. "The complication is, really, the clubs have very expensive assets in players and they are reluctant to take disciplinary action from the outset," he said.

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