Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Black stars 'reluctant to complain'

Gordon Taylor
Gordon Taylor

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

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

"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."

Taylor said it had also been difficult to demonstrate that the game was imposing discipline itself when the Football Association 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, Taylor said he had received abuse for speaking out about racism.

Taylor 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. I've got a young generation of black players that are saying, 'Gordon, we can't stand for this any more', and I'm feeling frustrated that we can't be a bit more effective in that process."

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

"Clubs do tend to act like a large family, they rally round and support each other, they do tend to draw the wagons around and this sort of 'they all hate us' sort of thing," he told the committee.

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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