Ferdinand has the right to challenge Fergie's values

Ever since as an apprentice toolmaker he joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union, Sir Alex Ferguson has embraced the concept of "one out, all out". Like many of his values, it has stuck with him for life.

When he said he wanted every member of his team to support the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign on Saturday, the Manchester United manager meant exactly what he said. Rio Ferdinand would have known precisely what the consequences would be for defying such a request.

In 1960, when as a teenager at the Remington Rand plant in Glasgow Ferguson joined the future Labour minister Gus Macdonald and the young Billy Connolly in strike action, a film was released. It starred Spencer Tracy and its title was based on the Biblical quotation: "He that divides his own house shall inherit the wind."

It is a principle Ferguson has lived by. It sums up why he almost never criticises his players by name. His concluding comment in his post-match television interview: "He will be dealt with, don't you worry," would have struck fear into most footballers.

But Ferdinand has campaigned long and hard on the consequences of young black men, particularly in his native south London, carrying knives. He has thought long and hard about the consequences of the man alongside whom he played in England's defence calling his brother a "f****** black c***" and whether Kick It Out is simply too close to the football establishment. He has earned the right to think.