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Hunt warns over racism in football

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that football must not return to the "bad old days" following high-profile racism rows.

He again endorsed the FA's decision to remove the England captaincy from John Terry pending the outcome of his trial for alleged racial abuse of another player.

And he said the failure of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra was "incredibly depressing". Although the sport had made "huge strides", recent events showed you can "never be complacent".

Suarez later issued a statement admitting he had spoken to Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and realised he had "got things wrong".

"I have not only let him down but also the club and what it stands for and I'm sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened," the player said.

"I should have shaken Patrice Evra's hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions. I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football."

The comments came as it emerged that David Cameron is to hold a Downing Street summit to discuss the issue. The sport's authorities and players' representatives are due to take part in the session later this month.

Mr Hunt said: "I would say that, as a society, one of the main reasons we have made huge strides in changing attitudes to racial discrimination is because of the changes in football.

"The lesson of the last couple of months is that you can never be complacent and the Prime Minister is very, very concerned to make sure that we don't go back to the bad old days but also that we are absolutely on our mettle to make sure that the football authorities and the Government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem."

Asked for his reaction to the spat between Evra and Suarez, Mr Hunt said: "It is incredibly depressing. It was very unsporting behaviour and I am sure the Football Association will look to see if any rules were broken."


From Belfast Telegraph