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Football must stand united in fight against racism and discrimination

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

The sickening racial abuse of England Under-21 international Danny Rose hurt us all and we must fight against it together  Miroslav Todorovic/AP

The sickening racial abuse of England Under-21 international Danny Rose hurt us all and we must fight against it together Miroslav Todorovic/AP

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It can be quite rare to find a comment from Sir Alex Ferguson agreeable but his thoughts on how we should keep a united front against racism are absolutely right.

The terrible scenes in Serbia this week, when England Under-21 international Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants, were a disgrace.

The reaction to the incident has generated a passionate response but some no-doubt well-intentioned reaction has missed the mark.

Reading striker Jason Roberts has been one of the most vocal, declaring his disappointment in the Kick it Out campaign and has suggested he will not wear the campaign group's T-shirt due its lack of action against racism.

We can only hope his idea was something he said under duress and that he will reconsider.

It can sometimes be exceptionally difficult to metaphorically walk around in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel, especially in relation to racial abuse. Those of us who have never experienced it can only imagine what Rose would have felt.

But what Roberts has seemingly failed to realise is it does affect everyone who saw it, who cares and wants to do something about it.

Our national pride is running high after the Olympic Games. We saw how strong we are as this amazing multi-cultural nation. When we are working together, we can achieve special things.

Any England supporter, from any ethnic background, will have been deeply shocked at what one of our players was forced to endure this week.

We are all disappointed that too little is being done. Football's various governing bodies should hang their heads in shame after the pathetic punishments given to those who have done wrong.

Chelsea's decision not to make John Terry's punishment public is also shameful. How can it act as a deterrent if justice has not been seen to be done?

But if Roberts encourages a divide between black players and everyone else, by not joining his team-mates in the Kick it Out campaign, he is abandoning the very people who want to stand beside him and fight.

The campaign is surely designed to raise awareness rather directly deal with the problem. Recent events, unsatisfactory as they are, have done this and now is the time to reinforce the message that racism and discrimination are unacceptable.

Splintering off into various factions will make this more difficult, less effective and, as Arsene Wenger said yesterday, less credible.

The chanting this week would have merely been the most offensive thing those people could muster to unsettle and hurt an opposition player.

We have to stand together and show we are all stronger than that.

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