Savage wants second chance with Wales

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The Independent Online

Robbie Savage has re-opened his feud with the Wales manager John Toshack, claiming that his current form dictates that he should be back in the Wales side.

Last September the Blackburn midfielder, who has 39 caps, ruled himself out of playing for Wales again while Toshack was in charge, but yesterday he said: "My performances for Blackburn this season merit a place in the Wales team, simple as that. People might say I walked out on Wales but I retired because he [Toshack] told me I wasn't good enough for his squad."

Savage, 31, has not played for Wales under Toshack since criticising the new regime last season after Mark Hughes stepped down to become the new Blackburn manager. The player has not spoken to Toshack to apologise and the manager has not commented on the situation.

Savage also laid into the Football Association of Wales for employing Toshack, pointing to Toshack's first, abortive stint at managing his country. The former Real Madrid coach took over the Wales post part-time in 1994 after Terry Yorath was fired but resigned after one game, a 3-1 defeat to Norway.

"For me, the Welsh FA is still run by dinosaurs," Savage said. "Yes, I chucked my toys out of the pram but this is the man who walked out on Wales, I can't believe people are forgetting this. The Wales FA employed him again and he had a second chance, so why can't I?"

Elsewhere, in Israel, John Barnes is helping to kick off a campaign against racism in Israeli football this week as the FA began a "Kick it Out" campaign based on a model developed in England. Lucy Faulkner, the English FA's ethics manager, said that Israel was so far the only country to ask to benefit from the experience which the English FA had gained.

Barnes said the best way to get the message across was through the players. "The players are the most visible sign, they are best placed to send a bigger message," he said. "This is just the launch and it is going to be a long haul but all people coming together will try to get rid of racism."

In Israel the predominant racist chants are against the Arab minority, but Barnes said that it made no difference. "We are human beings before we are black, we are human beings before we are white, Jewish or Arab."

Almost all of Israel's top clubs have at least one Arab player in their ranks, except Betar Jerusalem, some of whose fans, who hold right-wing views, have declared their opposition to the club hiring Arab players. The Israeli FA and the club have criticised those fans but have not taken any action.

Faulkner said: "We have been running our campaign against racism in football for 13 years and we are pleased to be able to help the Israeli FA benefit from our experience," adding that there had been contact for future collaboration with the Spanish FA.

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