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 176.

    What racism?, if he did`nt want to shake his hand, then why should he, he did`nt think he`d been racist in the first place when he was banned. I believe its been blown out of all proportion. certain words mean different things in differnt places, a "fanny" here means one thing but in the states it means something else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Racism is still prevelant in our society, whether it's simply casual offhand racial comments people describe as banter - to overt and expicit prejudice. Many of the comments here are clear evidence of this acceptance and tolerance of racism, either through their naïveté or vitriol.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The FA have handled the issue with Suarez and Evra appallingly. If they had looked at the evidence properly and given both players a fair hearing, this would have been put to bed months ago. Instead the FA went out of their way to ensure Suarez was found guilty so they can hold the moral high ground on racism with FIFA. This specific issue isn't about racism and I don't think it ever really was.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    I'm a Villa so have no vested interest in any other club. Why was Suarez banned for 8 matches, and yet John Terry has to go to court? What is the difference?

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Let's also not forget the fact that Patrice Evra also changed his intial allegation, not once, but twice.

    This was in terms of the word Suarez was alleged to have used and the amount of times that word was used.

    Evra cited this was due to difficulties understanding the Spanish language. Yet Evra had no problems insulting Suarez's sister in the most vulgar of terms in Spanish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Perhaps Ferguson should lay off the red wine as he seems to see things through rose tinted spectacles (when he chooses to wear them).

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    How many American singers use the "N" word in their songs. They are not banned. Youngsters buy the cd's and wonder what the fuss is about if they use the word themselves

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Is it surprising that one footballer, who was banned from playing 8 matches, refuses to shake the hand of another footballer who was instrumental in him being given that ban?
    My mother used to say, sticks and stones can break bones but words can never hurt you, is just as true today. If someone upsets you by what they say will it improve their view of you if you then actually cause them trouble.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    A Football handshake which hardly any supporter at the game was even aware of, media constructed yet another "Racist" story.
    Terry awaiting trial, but player who was also involved isn`t. AAAH he wasn`t white!
    Todays news agenda a "handshake" racist story..again.
    An American Singer has died,
    Aremedia actually reporting NEWS any more,or is there a Left wing agenda to keep news Supine, like Pravda?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Comments from Alex Ferguson are not helpful and only stoke the fire especially as he knows it how long it takes to get over an issue when one feels aggrieved. How long was it before he could bring himself to be interviewed by the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    I have just been in Tesco and they sell wine from Spain with the word 'negra' printed on the label. This is the Spanish word for black but the hysteria whipped up would suggest that Tesco withdraw this wine? By disrespecting another language are we not being racist? We get these foreign players over here and then insist on them acting in a 'British' way. That's racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    No comment has been made about the inflammatory Man Utd Fanzine which was seized by the Police who deemed it to be racist. Will action is taken against the club for this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    always said too many foreigners in our game who don't know how to behave like gentlemen!! (mind you,none of our lot know how to either!!!) they are all spoiled kids anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Racism is very serious but here you have to laugh this off and move on, so there was no handshake so what, yes it is disappointing but it's not the be all and end all, do we really believe that Evra and Ferdinand were not intent on proving a point in the first minute when they collided narrowly missing their intended target. There are more important things in life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    @ 129.DRJardine
    that's a pretty mindless comment, don't you think? looking down your nose at millions of people worldwide for the actions of one or two poeple that the media have decided to focus on (rightly or wrongly).
    how high is that horse of yours?

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Would never happen in rugby. I just had a physical game with plenty of banter and a bit of rough stuff. Did we take it off the field? Nope we just went for a beer, had a laugh and discussed how pathetic today's footballers are. Overpaid cheats was the general consensus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    According to Sepp Blatter a handshake solves the problem...
    If ever you wanted an exampe of someone who is so out of touch with reality then here it is.

    The FA should ban Suarez for another 8 games because he clearly did not learn the first time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    "It's vital too that more coaches and managers from black and minority ethnic groups make it to the top of the game"

    Sorry but NO NO NO NO NO!!!
    EVERYONE IS EQUAL!!! Do not go the other way and give preference to minority ethnic groups! True equality is giving the job to the best person available! It's offensive to the people you are automatically ruling out! Trying to fix the problem overnight!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Football really doesn't do itself any favours does it. It really is playground nonsense, a bunch of impetuous, arrogant, overpaid prima donnas, strutting around like peacocks, crowing to all and sundry. I don't know what the comments were and I really don't care, these are grown men at least stand up for yoursleves rather than run crying to the FA. As for Terry, well he's just a yob...

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I believe a handshake yesterday would have changed the focus of attention in the game, and I also believe that Liverpool had a very good chance of a victory there. So, in a nutshell, Suarez was guilty of letting his team and his manager down. What on earth was Suarez thinking? What does he think will happen the next time these 2 individuals meet? Does he want it to happen all over again?


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