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English soccer promotes anti-racism T-shirts

Friday, October 19, 2012 | 12:17 PM    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Damaged by a yearlong racism case involving John Terry, English soccer will ask Premier League players to don anti-racism T-shirts during the warm-up for matches this weekend.

Football Association chairman David Bernstein said Friday that Terry's decision not to contest a four-match ban for racially abusing an opponent during a league game "hopefully brings to a close a difficult period for the domestic game in England."

Other high-profile incidents have brought racism back in the spotlight over the past year, with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez banned for eight games for hurling slurs at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and more recently England's Danny Rose claiming racist abuse at the hands of Serbia fans in an under-21 international on Tuesday.

Commenting particularly on the Terry case, Bernstein said: "Unfortunately, the reputation of English football has been damaged. It is a shame that one high-profile incident has had such a major impact.

"But this single event should not be allowed to overshadow the massive strides taken by players, managers, clubs, leagues and so many across the national game in terms of equality and inclusion. The damage of this affair is not irreparable."

Kick It Out, an anti-racism campaign group, on Thursday began a week of action with players across the country wearing T-shirts before matches to promote the organisation's message.

Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, the managers of United and Arsenal, respectively, were among the coaches who confirmed on Friday that their players will unite behind the Kick It Out campaign this weekend.

Wenger praised the work done by the English FA to combat racism, widely seen in England as the biggest scourge in the sport.

"There are some countries where they don't do (anything)," said the Frenchman, who has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996. "I am long enough in this country to say that they tackle the problem. They don't hide behind it.

"It is not easy, yet they have a consistent behaviour to fight it every year. You could see that with the Suarez and Terry. They do not let people get away with it."

Jason Roberts, a black striker who plays for Premier League team Reading and who has been a vocal anti-racism campaigner, said Thursday he was refusing to take part in the Kick It Out campaign out of concern the organisation hasn't done enough to combat racism.

"I have to disagree with Jason Roberts. I think he is making the wrong point," Ferguson said. "Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick It Out warm-up tops.

"I don't know what point he is trying to make. I don't know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone. But he really should be supporting all the rest of the players who are doing it."

By accepting his ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match last October, Terry will miss Chelsea's match against Tottenham and can't participate in the campaign.

Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo refused to confirm on Friday whether Terry would remain club captain, saying: "We do not discuss publicly the disciplinary matters we take against our players. You will have to wait and see."

Terry is available for Chelsea's Champions League match at Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, with his suspension only covering domestic games.

"John Terry has now been sanctioned and held accountable for his actions," Bernstein said. "I am pleased he has apologised and we must now draw a line under this matter. However, we too will learn from the case."

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