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Still no Kick It Out T-shirt for Roberts

STAYING FIRM: Roberts will not endorse Kick It Out

THE KICK It Out T-shirts episode is far from over as Jason Roberts has said he will not pull on the campaign organisation’s shirt until he is happy more has been done to clamp down on racism.

The 34-year-old Premier League player was one of the first black footballers to speak out against the idea of wearing the T-shirts which form part of Kick It Out’s annual awareness campaign, lasting October 18 – 29. Other notable professional footballers also to have followed suit and boycott the shirts are: Anton Ferdinand; Rio Ferdinand; Shaun Wright-Phillips; Nedum Onouha; Micah Richards; and Joleon Lescott.

Football clubs Swansea and Wigan decided to make their entire squads forgo the T-shirt wearing routine.

Meanwhile, Roberts has indicated he feels vindicated by his decision not to follow Kick It Out’s annual tradition. “People are talking about it now, so it has had its desired effect,” the striker told BBC Radio Berkshire.

“I hope we are a step further to moving things forward after the weekend.

“I believe in the PFA and in what it can do and believe they have the power to change things”, he added.

Not touching upon the subject of a potential breakaway union for black players, Roberts reaffirmed the principle of working within existing structures. “Discussions are ongoing to improve the equalities department within the PFA”, he said.

The forward also underlined his stance was not a direct attack on Kick It Out. Roberts said: “I am not here to criticise Kick It Out.

“If it was a T-shirt from another organisation trying to give that message, then I would not have worn it.

“It was not a specific attack on Kick It Out, although I do recognise they have to do better. I've worked with Kick It Out, I've worked with the union and we all have to do better, this whole situation has come about because people want us to do better.”

Furthermore, a chance of reconciliation regarding the John Terry and Ferdinand incident has become a possibility, thanks to a joint statement released by the Ferdinand brothers who play for Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers.

Chelsea’s Sunday clash with United will most likely see Ashley Cole line up against Rio Ferdinand, and with customary handshake ritual putting additional scrutiny on the pair since Ferdinand received a £45,000 FA fine for branding Cole a “choc ice” on Twitter, the defender appears willing to shake the left-back’s hand – despite Cole testifying in court in favour of Terry.

FAMILY TIES: The Ferdinand brothers compete against each other in 2006

The issue of whether the elder Ferdinand shakes Terry’s hand will be put on hold as centre-back found guilty by the FA of racist abuse is currently serving his four-match ban.

In their joint statement, which, like Robert’s position, looks to the future, the Ferdinands express a willingness to “work with football's existing organisations towards the betterment of the game and to achieve immediate action”.

“In the coming months there will be ongoing discussions, we are sure, on finding a way forward”, reads the statement issued Wednesday (October 24) evening. “We intend to participate in these discussions, along with numerous other current and ex-professionals of all races, from the grassroots upwards, across the football community as a whole.

“On the issue of Kick It Out, we would like to go on record to say what fantastic work they have done in the past regarding education and awareness. However, times change and organisations need to change with them. We are more than happy to join the discussion, privately, to make Kick it Out more relevant in its fight to stamp out racism in football.

“Although we have been left disappointed by the PFA and the FA's actions over the last year, as a family, we are committed to working with football's existing organisations towards the betterment of the game and to achieve immediate action.

“We would like to thank all the fans and the staff at Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United for their support in what has been a difficult year. In particular we want to thank [the managers] Sir Alex Ferguson and Mark Hughes.

“We will not be discussing publicly any issues connected with the case. We are now going to concentrate on playing football.”

Also, the statement effectively puts further distance between the brothers and the idea of them backing a separate black players’ union, even though both have been linked to the concept.

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