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 116.

    As many people have pointed out, name calling is not an offense and should not be treated as one. At the same time do we really want to return to a time when racism was acceptable. As with everything common sense should be employed. Not expecting footballers to be champions of virtue is a start, the majority have yet to grow up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    It seems that we expect so much from out footballers, think of the arena we send them into that we like to make into one of hostility and war. Then when a player steps out of line in the heat we want to seek revenge. There is never forgivemess, no reconcilliation ever allowed. Only punishment and anger often dictated by those at the top and the media, all of course, perfect people themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Have ManU forgotten about the antics of Eric Cantona?????

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Glad to see Cameron taking a strong stance against racism. Presumably he will be sacking Boris Johnson for his hateful comments about Lindon's Irish Community in describing the London St Patricks Day Event as "lefty Sinn Fein crap"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    There are many comments on here which reveal racist tendencies. Those who imply "over reaction" and "PC brigade madness" should examine their own motivation. Whilst overt racism is significantly less than 20 years ago, covert comments remain a dangerous blot on our society. Don't just abhor racism in what you say: abhor it in how you think. Some newspapers would do well to reflect on this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    usual fuss over nothing.
    A bit of name calling gets blown out of all proportion as with John Terry. Notice how Kenny Dalglish sees it for what it really is a storm in a teacup. That is why Fabio Capello resigned he feels all this John Terry incident is just a bit of name calling and he was seriously undermined by the politically correct FA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Hmm, looks as if some politicians have found a bandwagon to jump onto.

    While nobody should have to put up with abuse, you do have to wonder at the mental strength of some of these people who's world seems to end the moment they hear a bad word. Or are they just milking the system and taking us all for a ride?

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    A genuine question for you, how many times has Evra been Captain of Man U? Cannot find out on any Website.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Luis Suarez is a quarter black. The same as Rio Ferdinand's kids. I'm sure he's a raving Hitlerite, isn't he??

    More likely just another victim of the UK's hysterical hang up about the issue of race.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.


    If a person commits a crime abroad but that action is not a crime in their home country, their are still breaking the law, ignorance plays no part in this. It is Suarez's job to understand the laws and customs of this country, not our job to bend to his whims...

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Why does everyone think that yesterday's actions were racist motivated, when Suarez offered his hand to Ferdinand and Wellbeck? Surely this is now a personal issue and should be reported as such.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    The hand shake is about respect - obviously he Suarez has no respect for Evra so why force this upon a player?
    We all know Evra is a stirrer - just look at the world cup and what he manged there. We all know Suarez is bad sport - again look at the world cup and his celebration when the penalty missed.
    Are these 2 really people you want to hold up as a shining light for fair play and sportsmanship?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Liverpool FC is not a racist club. Suarez is not a racist. They don't need to play puppy for arrogant Mr Evra, Mr Ferguson or the FA in order to prove this. End of story.

    Suarez has served his ban and served it with dignity. If he doesn't feel obliged to shake his hands then that is his choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    I see that 3 Somalians got away with kicking and severely injuring a white woman because they were drunk. Maybe Suarez should have drunk a bottle of whisky and he'd have got away with anything.

    McCarthyism is alive and well in this country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Whatever cultural misunderstandings there may or may not have been, the petty, childish yet aggressive behaviour and lack of intelligence on the part of players and managers alike has only made them all look like a bunch of overpaid sulky little boys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Suarez should be held as an positive example to all. It was the fact that he told the truth to the FA as part of the investigation , they judged him guilty of saying a word, which is not racist, on the balance of probability. He was not called "racist" by Evra. If it had gone to the police, it would have been thrown out, as there was no evidence he was being racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    So name calling is now a thought crime in the UK. Worrying stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Perhaps we could install a chip in everyone's head, and if they have a racist thought it could detonate a charge.

    You cannot ban peoples thoughts whether you like them or not, Orwellian Britain is becoming a reality.

    Btw, politicians should stay out of sport and concentrate on ruining the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Watch the TV footage carefully. Evra's hand was low and in my opinion, he was not keen to shake hands and he waited until he could suddenly raise his hand after Suarwz had passed and make it look like it was all Suarez's doing . Then Ferdinand compounded it by refusing to shake as well. Great spectacle for the media to manipulate to maximum effect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Hmm. What happened yesterday was IMHO an act of bad sportmanship from Suarez. I'm not a Man U or LFC supporter and Suarez could have just offered his hand rather than do that. If we want football to be a good example to our youngsters then the FA should step in again until Suarez gets the message. I'd also say that, although not overtly racist, it was behaviour that could have triggered a riot.


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