Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Talks open on black players' association

Rio Ferdinand, centre, refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt on Saturday

Talks about setting up a black footballers' association have begun involving players from all levels of the game, a human rights lawyer involved in the discussions has confirmed.

Peter Herbert, who chairs the Society of Black Lawyers, said talks about the formation of an organisation - which has a working title of the Black Players' Association - are at a preliminary stage.

It comes after a week in which England Under-21 players were allegedly racially abused in Serbia while a number of players - notably Reading striker Jason Roberts and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand - refused to wear Kick It Out T-shirts at the weekend.

There are those who want the agenda to be far more hard-hitting than the Kick It Out campaign and Herbert told Press Association Sport: "I think it would be a bit more radical (than Kick It Out).

"The fact we are having this conversation (shows) the campaign has not achieved what it should have achieved.

"It's no criticism of what they've done, we work with them, we know the people involved but it needs to be taken to the next level."

Meanwhile, the Football Association has said it will review its sanctions for racial abuse in the wake of the John Terry case as chairman David Bernstein called on disenchanted players not to form a breakaway union.

Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand but some players feel the Chelsea captain escaped lightly. There is no fixed sanction for racism under FA rules - independent disciplinary commissioners work on the basis of doubling sanctions if there is an "aggravating factor" such as racial abuse.

Asked about whether the FA would look again at the tariff for sanctions, Bernstein told a news conference at Wembley Stadium: "It's on the agenda to look at it again.

"The FA received a certain, probably limited degree of criticism for its processes in the Terry thing. We will look at that. I think the tariffs will need looking at but given the existing scenarios and given other punishments elsewhere actually the commission got it pretty much right."