England’s Rio Ferdinand has launched a scathing attack on Uefa for what he sees as a failure to stamp out racism.
He backs a European Parliament resolution calling on referees to be able to abandon matches where supporters make racist taunts.
The 28-year-old Manchester United star said to The Daily Express:
“It is time for Uefa to stop paying lip service to the problem. Uefa should look at imposing huge fines or deducting points within tournaments or competitions.”
Fifa imposed a £44,750 fine on the Spanish FA after Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were the target for monkey chants during last year’s friendly with England in Madrid.
“The fines handed out after the England-Spain game were a joke. For too long now, European football authorities have not taken the problem of racism in the game seriously and refuse to acknowledge how widespread the problem is. I talk to a lot of European players and know there are big problems in Spain, in Italy and in Eastern Europe. Just look at what happened to Samuel Eto’o. He was racially abused against Zaragoza and what happened? Zaragoza were fined a paltry 9000 Euros by the Spanish Football Federation. If he had reacted to the fans that were abusing him by gesturing to them, he would have been fined a couple of weeks’ wages at the very least – but, yet again, nothing happens to the fans that abused him. If Uefa really is serious about kicking racism into touch it should adopt some of the penalties called for in the (EP) resolution and get on with punishing those who defame the game we all love with their backward, racist views.”
But UEFA responded to Ferdinand’s criticism, with director of communications William Gaillard saying:
“I understand the reasons for his frustration because racism is a very ugly phenomenon and I think we need to stamp it out. At the same time I think a professional football player should do a little bit of homework to understand how the game is organised because he quotes two instances – the Spain against England friendly 18 months ago and then the Zaragoza-Barcelona match. He should know both these games were not under Uefa jurisdiction. All international friendlies are played under Fifa jurisdiction while of course Spanish league games are played under the authority of the Spanish football association. We cannot interfere. This is just the way the jurisdiction is. As far as we’re concerned we don’t feel any limits to what we can do and we have shown that. Uefa has been relentless in its fight against racism and we’re always ready to do more.”
Meanwhile, a group of European MPs is calling for sound or colour to be switched off during broadcasts of football matches if a racist incident occurs. A total of 423 MEPs have signed a declaration calling on Uefa to urge broadcasters to act against racism. Many of Rio’s teamates at Man United are said to support his stance, including Wes Brown, Patrice Evra and Ji-Sung Park.