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'Paul Elliott is not racist for using N-word’

SUPPORT: Piara Powar (left) and Peter Elliott

AFTER LEADING anti-racism in football campaigner Paul Elliott quit his roles at governing bodies the FA and Uefa following use of the N-word, another key anti-racism figurehead has leapt to his defence.

The Sun reported on February 18 that Elliott, 48, had called former Charlton Athletic player Richard Rufus a “n***er” via a text following a dispute over a business venture.

Following the revelation, former Chelsea defender Elliott – who was awarded a CBE for services to equality and diversity in football earlier this month – resigned from his jobs as an ambassador at the FA, Uefa and at football's equality and inclusion campaign Kick It Out.

However, Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) executive director Piara Powar believes that Elliott’s comments were not racially offensive.

Powar told Telegraph Sport: “I can understand the concern over the use of the n-word, whoever uses it, in whichever context.

OFFENDED: Richard Rufus

“However, I cannot accept that it is racist to use it between two friends and business colleagues in a private text, when both are black, from almost identical ethnic and social backgrounds, and there has been no allegation of racism.

“Racism and other forms of discrimination are not simply about words. It may be difficult for some to accept the difference between those words used with discriminatory intent and those that are not.”

Powar also thinks that Elliott will recover from this saga.

“I know Paul very well and I know the skills that he has, the understanding of the game that he has and its politics, and I have no doubt that Paul will be back and fighting,” said Powar.

“In the end, what Paul does is seek to represent those who are disenfranchised in society and perhaps in football as well. I think he’ll continue to seek to represent those groups and, in time, his skills will bring him to the fore again.”

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