LONDON: Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand and Reading’s Jason Roberts were among a number of Premier League players today who refused to mark the Kick It Out weekend by wearing a training T-shirts bearing the anti-discrimination slogan.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had expected Ferdinand – brother of QPR’s Anton – to wear a campaign shirt and said, after the game, he was “disappointed” at the player’s decision.
On Friday Ferguson had said: “Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick it Out warm-up tops.”
Before the game, however, while United’s other outfield players wore the black One game, one community T-shirts, Ferdinand emerged in a red United tracksuit top. Beneath it he was wearing a United training shirt with the logo of sponsor DHL.
Outspoken Roberts had criticised the anti-racism group for proving ineffective. His response, that of Ferdinand and some other players, was sparked by the way the game addressed incidents this time last year involving Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
The rest of Roberts’s Reading team-mates – and all their Liverpool opponents except goalkeeper Brad Jones – donned the tops for the pre-match drills.
Ahead of the game Roberts said: “The four-match ban [on Terry]was, for me, not a heavy enough sanction for what happened. I’m totally committed to kicking racism out of football but when there’s a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it.
“I think people feel let down by what used to be called Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football. People don’t feel like they have been strong enough.”
Swansea and Wigan players did not warm up in the Kick It Out anti-racism t-shirts at the Liberty Stadium. Media reports claimed several players on both sides did not wish to wear the T-shirts and their team-mates decided, rather than isolate their colleagues, that no players would wear the shirts.
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