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PFA boss encourages black players to speak up


PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor worries that a climate of fear could develop in football which will deter players from lodging complaints against racist abuse.

Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand have been subject to crowd abuse in recent weeks.

The Manchester United left-back Evra was targeted by some fans during the club’s FA Cup clash at Anfield on January 29 after he lodged a racism complaint against Liverpool’s Luis Suarez that resulted in the striker serving an eight-match suspension.

He also came under fire at Chelsea during the 3-3 draw on Sunday (February 5), as did Ferdinand, whose brother Anton alleges that he was racially abused by Blues captain John Terry.

Taylor warned that the actions of these fans could result in players thinking twice about reporting abuse because of a potential public backlash.

He explained: “The big thing is with the likes of Patrice Evra - he has become a victim because he has made a complaint. The last thing we want is black players to feel there is no point making a complaint because they will then suffer a backlash. It is like that with a lot of other issues on equality, like homophobia.

"There is a fear that anyone who comes out and makes a complaint will receive this backlash and puts off anyone else. People have got to be strong and believe what they are doing is right and stand up against racism."

JEERED: Ferdinand

However, whilst admitting there had been a ‘backward step of late’, he dismissed suggestions that there had been a regression to the 1970s, when racism was prevalent.

“People are saying it is a return to the bad old days and I don’t believe that,” said Taylor.

“In the bad old days, there would not have been the level of discussion that there is now. There are some excellent campaigns and I don't want people to think all the progress we have made in the last two decades has been wiped out. I don't want any black players to feel that has all been for nothing.

"The very fact it is so high up the agenda and taken as seriously now is a situation that just wasn't the case many years ago. This has just reinforced the message that we have got to keep working at the campaigns. It is an education process.”

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