Rio Ferdinand Faces $350K Fine For Refusing To Wear Anti-Racism T-Shirt
ManU player RIO FERDINAND's decision to refuse to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt prior to his club's 4-2 win at home to Stoke City FC on Saturday "could be a costly one with reports suggesting he will be fined £220,000 ($352,000) for the symbolic gesture," according to EUROSPORT. While Ferdinand's teammates warmed up for the game wearing the T-shirt, which promotes the anti-racism organization's "week of action," Ferdinand "took the decision to discard his, in direct contradiction of his manager's wishes." Manager ALEX FERGUSON was "absolutely furious after the game," accusing Ferdinand of "embarrassing" him and claiming that the defender had "let [United] down" (EUROSPORT, 10/21).
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: The AFP reported that Ferdinand was "taking part in a protest by certain black players," led by Reading striker JASON ROBERTS who claimed that the anti-racism movement was "not doing enough to deal with the high-profile problem." Ferdinand is also "thought to be angry" that Chelsea defender JOHN TERRY was only given a four-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, ANTON, during a match last year. The T-shirts were worn by all players from Stoke City and ManU, "with the exception of" Ferdinand and Stoke's KENWYNE JONES. Ferguson said: "We did that in support of the PFA [Professional Footballers Association]. Every player in the country should have adhered to that. He goes and lets us down. We will deal with it. Don't worry about that." Jones' refusal to wear the T-shirt will "generate far fewer headlines than Ferdinand's actions" and his club Manager TONY PULIS was "far more relaxed about his player's behaviour." Pulis: "Let me just say, in this country, never mind what people say or don't say, they have the right to say yes or no. In a lot of countries, you don't have that right, in this country you do. You have the right to do what you want to do, the right to stand up and do it or not" (AFP, 10/21).
PFA BACKS PROTEST: The PA reported that the players' union has "defended Rio Ferdinand's right to make a personal protest against the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign." PFA Chair CLARKE CARLISLE told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We will definitely monitor the situation very closely and make sure Rio Ferdinand's rights as a human being, never mind as a footballer, are not undermined in this position. Everyone has a right to free speech" (PA, 10/21). The AFP also reported that Carlisle "urged Ferguson to follow the examples of Reading Manager BRIAN MCDERMOTT and Newcastle Manager ALAN PARDEW in allowing Ferdinand "to explain the reasons behind his decision." Carlisle: "There are two sides to this one. First of all, Sir Alex Ferguson is continual in his unwavering support for the Kick It Out campaign, which is commendable and what we all want to see, but you can't vilify or coerce any individual for making a stand" (AFP, 10/21).