Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt warns on football racism


Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said 'huge strides' had been made tackling racism in football

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Football should avoid complacency when it comes to tackling racism in sport, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

He said huge strides had been taken on the issue but David Cameron was concerned the situation did not "go back to the bad old days".

The culture secretary told the BBC he is due to meet the prime minister to discuss racism and behaviour in football.

Mr Cameron plans a summit on racism in football later this month.

The prime minister will hold talks with governing bodies and players' representatives after a series of high-profile incidents.

'On our mettle'

On Saturday, Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was criticised for refusing to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra before the match between the teams.

Suarez was banned for eight matches after racially abusing Evra in October. He later apologised for not shaking hands in a statement released on the Liverpool website on Sunday.

On racism, Mr Hunt told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "We have made huge strides, in fact I would say as a society one of the reasons we have made huge strides in changing attitudes to racial discrimination is because of the changes in football."

But he said the lesson of the last couple of months was that there was no room for complacency.

The cutural secretary said they needed to be "on our mettle at making sure the football authorities and the government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem".

He said the decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy was one for the Football Association, but he supported this.

'Unsporting behaviour'

"A principle is more important than any one person and it's incredibly important for the future of the game that the FA deal decisively and clearly with these issues as they did with [Luis] Suarez," he said.

"But John Terry is innocent until proven guilty and we must wait to see what the courts decide."

Mr Hunt said headlines from Saturday's match between Manchester United and Liverpool were "incredibly depressing".

He said: "It was very unsporting behaviour. I'm sure the FA will look into whether any rules were broken. I thought the referee handled it brilliantly, it was an incredibly tense and difficult situation."

Mr Hunt also defended doubling the budget for the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics in times of austerity.

The culture secretary said: "This will be the biggest, longest ad for our country in our history. This is the time to bang the drum for all that's brilliant about our country."

'Kick it out'

At a charity reception last month, Mr Cameron said: "My message is clear. We will not tolerate racism in Britain.

"It has absolutely no place in our society. And where it exists, we will kick it out.

"Our football governing bodies, clubs and footballers themselves have a vital role to play as role models in this respect.

"It's vital too that more coaches and managers from black and minority ethnic groups make it to the top of the game and I know the Premier League among others are working hard to try and make this happen."

In an FA Cup match a fortnight ago, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand was spared having to decide whether to shake the hand of John Terry when the Football Association allowed the teams to forego the ritual.

That match was the first meeting of the London clubs since Terry was alleged to have racially abused Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October - a charge he denies.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Does it really matter?

    Who cares if some johnny foreigner called another a bad word, or did not shake his hand!

    Get over it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    nice try jeremy at trying to divert attention away from the NHS debate!

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    It is another aspect of the hatred which seems to pervade only football, probably due to the mindset of those following it. Things like road direction signs in Newcastle not indicating Sunderland, as the council know they will be defaced as soon as they are erected, and an incident a decade ago where a bus had its brake pipe cut in Portsmouth because the destination board read Southampton.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    12.Trollslayer -"Football player are public figures...They are supposed to be role models and their behaviour defines what is acceptable to many others"

    Just like other 'celebs', they are paid according to their talents. The primary role models for children are their parents, extended family and possibly teachers. Adults should not need role models but sadly it seems a great many do

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    The Suarez report concluded the term "negro" was racist because of the context it was used in. This was based on its use in Uruguay and Latin America. Suarez AGREED the term can be racist, but claimed that he was using it in a friendly way.
    Any commentators on here who believe Suarez was not being offensive when he used it are deluding themselves.

  • Comment number 151.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Idiot footballers are just another cash cow for an insatiable media. Today's 24/7 wall to wall coverage from the digital media age demands stories to fill schedules and make advertising to make money. So well done Suarez, Evra, Ferguson, Dalgliesh and all the others who see fit to behave like children - you get the press you so richly deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    This has got out of hand.

    Apart from being used by clubs as a weapon against their rivals, the FA are effectively dictating how to behave with respect to other people.

    Now we have the England captain on criminal trial for an outburst during a match

    Since when did the criminal law decide what names people call each other in everyday life let alone in the heat of a competitive sport


  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I am disappointed at the way the manager and players of Liverpool are openly condoning racism by claiming the FA was wrong to punish Suarez for the racist abuse of Evra, even though Suarez has admitted having made the racist statement he was alleged to have said. What message are they giving to their supporters? Why did they sign up to the RESPECT campaign if they do not intend to abide by it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Suarez is not a racist. He just didn't shake hands with someone that has just got him suspended and his name associated with being a racist. Isn't Suarez granddad black, so he is quarter black, so if Suarez did use the N word what's the problem? Black people say the N word to each other anyway.(which he didn't, it was negreto, word meaning Mate, which is used by black and white in South America)

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.


    Suarez would never have gone to jail for the "offence". Why, you may ask?

    Because there was not person on the pitch or in a heaving Kop who could collobarate Patrice Evra's story. Not ONE, Not even his teammates.

    Some people here should really educate theirselves and read the report before commenting. Suarez is not the devil he has been made out to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Are we all guilty here of commenting on what is in effect fairly meaningless - in terms of such an important subject of racism? - suarez not guilty of being racist ... evra guilty of arroganace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    after looking over and over the video of the handshake incident yesterday, i cant help but notice 2 things, Evera seems to pull away from Suarez and Rio Ferdinand refuses to shake the hand of Suarez. Why is this not a talking point? Why do the media keep trying to put bad press on LFC. This could have all been dealt with internally if mr ferguson had agreed to hold talks with the club

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Remembering back to the previous incident didn't Evra admit to making unpleasant remarks against Suarez! Evra has history and was banned from his national side for stirring things up. Ferguson's post match comments were uncalled for and the saying Pot & Kettle come to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    I think to a degree Evra contrived the situation by not putting his hand out as Suarez passed by, then Evra only grabbed his arm when he had walked on. Evra is looking directly at the camera and making a dramatic shrug. I think Evra needs time to cool off particularly as he pranced around in front of Suarez at the end. BTW I dont support Liverpool, nor am I a fan of Suarez.

  • Comment number 141.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Suarez exercised his right to refuse to shake hands. It is not a law to do so as some of the apologists are pointing out. However, in doing so he showed himself to be a bad sportsman and a bad example to any kids watching. Whether he felt unduly treated by the FA or not - he should have just taken it like a man and be thankful that he has a good job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    "In an FA Cup match a fortnight ago, QPR defender Anton Ferdinand was spared having to decide whether to shake the hand of John Terry when the Football Association allowed the teams to forego the ritual."

    Can you see the BBC's subliminal bias in that paragraph?

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    i agree withb stevio.. also no mention from Ferguson on Ferdinands refusal to shake hands or even the stupidity by Evra at the end of the match trying to stir it up in front of the away supporters and trying to get another response from Suarez!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Having been bullied in football because of my short stature I can honestly say football is riddled with confrontational prejudice and carries the uglier more shameful side of the English temperament to the extremes. That it brings into play racialism is no surprise and the only answer is for it to be abandoned as the national game. It is a barbaric disgrace that brings out the worst in all.


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