UEFA announced that team captains playing in Champions and Europa League matches this week "will be asked to wear anti-racism armbands as part of a campaign against discrimination," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. UEFA is backing a campaign by FARE, a Europe-wide group aiming to rid football of racism, in asking captains to wear the armbands featuring the words "Unite against racism." Often criticized "for not doing enough to stamp out racism," UEFA said that 30-second video messages would be played on stadium screens before games, and teams would be accompanied by children wearing "Unite against Racism" T-shirts (REUTERS, 10/22). In London, Josh Burrows wrote Chelsea captain John Terry "will become the unlikely face of UEFA’s latest anti-racism campaign if, as expected, he wears the captain’s armband" when Chelsea plays Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday. Despite being banned last week for four domestic games and fined £220,000 ($352,000) for using racist language "in the notorious incident" with Anton Ferdinand last year, Chelsea Chair Bruce Buck confirmed on Saturday that Terry "will retain the club captaincy" (LONDON TIMES, 10/22).
CHOOSING SIDES: In London, James Riach noted Kick It Out anti-racism campaign Chair Herman Ouseley "has defended the organisation and blamed the football authorities for a lack of leadership" following a weekend that saw several players boycott the charity's awareness drive by refusing to wear shirts promoting its message. ManU player Rio Ferdinand and Reading player Jason Roberts are among a growing number of players "who have become disenchanted with Kick It Out's efforts to stamp out racism and discrimination." Ouseley, however, "has rebutted the perceived lack of action from Kick It Out, claiming that the group is relatively powerless by comparison with the FA and Premier League." Ouseley: "We don't make the decisions, we don't run football. We are a small charity trying to help football come to terms with the reality of the 21st century" (GUARDIAN, 10/21). The PA's Ian Parker noted the Professional Footballers' Association Chair & Kick It Out ambassador Clarke Carlisle "hopes the decision of some players not to wear anti-racism T-shirts will prompt discussions rather than punishments." Rio Ferdinand's decision brought "strong criticism" from ManU Manager Alex Ferguson, who promised the player would be "dealt with." Carlisle said, "Sir Alex Ferguson is trying to reaffirm his unwavering support of the Kick It Out campaign, and that's fantastic. But this should not be seen as player versus club or dissension from a player against their employer" (PA, 10/22).
SUPPORT FROM THE SIR: In London, Riach noted Ferguson has supported the campaign "Let's Kick Racism Out of Football" since it was established in '93. It later became Kick It Out. His pre-match stance "does not negate the work he has done during the past 19 years, but it comes at a time when high-profile incidents have dragged the game's reputation well and truly through the gutter." Ferguson "may feel his authority has been undermined by Ferdinand," but the 33-year-old was not the only one this weekend that demonstrated his frustration with Kick It Out's progress (GUARDIAN, 10/21). The London TELEGRAPH noted Ferguson insists his dispute with Rio Ferdinand has been resolved and was little more than a "communication issue." Ferguson: "The issue's simple. I've spoken to Rio. It was a communication issue. He felt I should have spoken to him on Friday, and I didn't anticipate that he'd have a problem wearing the shirt" (TELEGRAPH, 10/22).