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 196.

    Look at the comments here with the most negative votes. Those comments are from those who would like to see our game's atmosphere improve and are generally critical of the game as it is.
    It looks like the medievalists are winning.
    That's exactly why I don't take my young son to any football matches - too much rubbish behaviour and values. Too much bad and not enough good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I don't know if Suarez really racially abused Evra or not - but I do know that whilst racism is much less of a problem in football now compared the 80s, it still hasn't been entirerly banished.

    Unfortunately on this topic, in this modern age, football merely reflects wider society. There is still work to be done to rid our sport & our society of thugish idiots who are racist......

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Lets all live in a UTOPIAN society, or a ORWELLIAN one, or accept Human frailties. I accept that not everything is Rosy, that each one of us is an individual and has their own way of living and expressing themself. I also have my own life and I find that I do not like everything that other people want me to hear, say and live by. I think we have to accept the fact that everyone is human & differs

  • Comment number 193.

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

  • Comment number 192.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    The issue is Liverpool and Dalgleish. Evra accuses Suarez of racism; FA agree; club accepts decision; Liverpool fans then abuse Evra at Anfield (sad, but inevitable); Dagleish goes out of his way to say this behaviour is ok; Suarez doesn't shake Evra's hand at Old Trafford; Dagleish says he didin't see it and refuses to comment. Liverpool's "zero tolerance of racism" = blatant nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Closely look at all the footage of the non-handshake...Evra lowered his hand from all of the previous shakes, and then played the camera when Suarez carried on past. Everyone has been suckered in by him, shame to judge without properly looking. Evra was playing everyone...look very closely at the filming you can't missing unless you don't want to see it!!!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    There are always two sides to an argument and yet most people can only see this one way. Racism can affect different races, not just one. The assumption here is that one person is guilty and the other innocent. The truth may be a little more complicated than that. No-one has come out of this unblemished.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    There could be some red faces here.
    The video evidence on U tube shows that Suarez had his hand out to Evra.
    It may well be that Evra played a situation for the cameras, he certainly has form on this, why cant the BBC get some other footage from different angles so we can see what actually happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    I wouldn't shake someone's hand that tried to get me fired, that would go against all principles, racism, homophobia, sexism and ageism aside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    140. LeePom

    Suarez had told Liverpool he would shake hands (confirmd this morning) and chose not to at the last minute.

    Therefore he put his own club in a difficult situation.

    I am amazed at how many people seem to support Suarez on this board even though he was found guilty by the independent investigation carried out for NOT by the FA.

  • Comment number 185.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    182 : The Bridge/Terry incident was not related to racism. The Suarez/Evra is..The two are completely different scenarios.

    Yes there is one born very day! You prove it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Since when did calling people names become a criminal offence ?

    Just where will the CPS & judges draw the line because if they are willing to prosecute the England captain for an on-field outburst which was abusive but not physically threatening, where will they stop.

    Political correctness is being allowed to dictate the agenda. As a country we look like obsessed idiots.

  • Comment number 182.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    It was a non-handshake FGS!

    The ratcheting up of the incident by the media, and the bandwagon jumping in order to be seen to be "right thinking" by the likes of David Davies, David Cameron, Gordon Taylor, Jeremy Hunt et al, do not help race relations one iota.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Politicians should keep their stupid noses out of our sport as much a possible. This current row is just a spat between two players and is nothing like the nasty ingrained racism that used to be found on the football terraces. Suarez should have just shook hands and smiled and shown some sportsmanship. now he just looks like an idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    How could anyone called for jury service in July not know the FA's ruling on John Terry? And they would surely think "The FA must think he's guilty." Therefore haven't the FA prejudiced Terry's chance of a fair trial? The FA's preoccupation with racism is leading to bad decisions. There are other ills in football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    The issue has got out of hand because of weak woolly-minded politicians, inept managers, an insatiable media and minorities with vested interests. Don't they realise that more racism is being created by the numpties who are promoting the so-called anti-racism agenda, which is not actually anti-racist, it is reverse-racist. If ALL racism was considered wrong, then the agenda would be credible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    @ 161.Flankerman
    i don't believe evra and suarez took it off the field either.
    rugby players also cheat. see 'bloodgate'
    they are also in it for the money, hence players moving to france even when warned it would affect their england selection chances. lazy, tired arguments from people who've nothing better to do than take a pop at football just for the sake of it.


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