Ferdinands say racism row exposes 'deep divisions'
LONDON (AP) -- Rio and Anton Ferdinand criticized the recent attempts of football authorities to combat racism in the wake of a series of high-profile incidents, claiming Wednesday it exposes the "deep divisions'' that still exist in the English game.
The brothers, who have been central figures in the yearlong John Terry racism case, spoke of their unhappiness at the reaction of governing bodies such as the Football Association about the issue on the day England's players' union called for stiffer punishment for racial abuse.
However, they dismissed the recently mooted idea of joining a breakaway organization to step up the fight against racism.
"Although we have been left disappointed by the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) and the FA's actions over the last year, as a family, we are committed to working with football's existing organizations towards the betterment of the game and to achieve immediate action,'' the Ferdinands said in a joint statement.
Terry was banned for four matches by the FA after finding the Chelsea captain guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers a year ago on Tuesday. That incident came a month after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez hurled repeated racial slurs at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, earning the Uruguay international an eight-match suspension from the FA.
"It has been a year since the incident at Loftus Road,'' the Ferdinands said. "During that time, some of the deep divisions that exist in football have been exposed.
"In the coming months there will be ongoing discussions, we are sure, on finding a way forward. 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.''
The PFA said racial abuse should be considered "gross misconduct'' and that football authorities should have the option to fire players and terminate contracts.
The union revealed its ideas as part of a six-point action plan in the hope it will curtail plans for a breakaway black players' union.
The Ferdinands were among the players who declined to wear T-shirts at the weekend in support of the anti-discrimination campaign Kick It Out because of a perceived a lack of action following recent cases of racism.
"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,'' the Ferdinands said. "However, times change and organizations 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.''
The PFA also wants English football to adopt something akin to the NFL's Rooney Rule, which forces clubs to at least interview, if not select, ethnic minorities for positions.
Since the Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003, there been a 550 percent increase in black coaches in the NFL. As part of the PFA plan, black coaches will be monitored and their results highlighted.
Of the top 92 clubs in England, only four have black managers.
Other ideas included speeding up the "process of dealing with reported racist abuse with close monitoring of any incidents,'' and helping individuals or clubs who have committed an offence to see the wrong in their ways by undertaking an equality awareness program.
The plan also aims to not distract attention from other inequalities, such as "gender, sexual orientation, disability, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Asians.''
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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