Alex Ferguson and Rio Ferdinand hold crisis talks on race row

Manager and Ferdinand try to stop situation spiralling after latter's decision not to support Kick It Out

Sir Alex Ferguson moved to avoid a breakdown in his relationship with Rio Ferdinand yesterday by holding talks in which he accepted that the defender will not apologise for refusing to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt.

The two met after Ferdinand had arrived for a training session yesterday, when the United manager explained that it was the lack of advance notice from the player of his intention to boycott the anti-racism campaign – in contravention of Ferguson's orders – which had angered him. The 33-year-old has apologised to Ferguson for that but has not voiced any contrition for the act itself.

The outcome of the meeting, at the club's Carrington training ground yesterday morning, allows both men to save face and appears to have taken some of the sting out of the issue, though Ferguson's tendency to allow things to fester when a player pulls rank does store up trouble for the future. Ferdinand will be severely indignant if he finds himself fined two weeks' wages – £220,000 – by Ferguson when plenty of Premier League players have been given freedom of choice in the matter by their managers.

A fine seems unlikely and Ferguson would be wise not to impose one, having boxed himself into a corner over the issue by first criticising Reading's Jason Roberts for his boycott and then declaring, after Saturday's home game with Stoke City, that Ferdinand's actions were "embarrassing". Visibly angry, Ferguson said that the player would be "dealt with". The Professional Footballers' Association backed the player's stance yesterday and Ferdinand would be likely to appeal against any fine.

Ferdinand's boycott was not staged lightly and he was undecided throughout Friday about the merits of rejecting a T-shirt. It is understood that his boycott was substantially motivated by the personal indignation he felt about comments made by the chairman of Kick It Out, Lord Ouseley, on Friday afternoon, six hours after Ferguson had stated that all his players would wear the T-shirts. Lord Ouseley told the BBC that he had "no intention of speaking for black footballers who are very wealthy and earning a lot of money" who "have to be organised and speak for themselves". Ferdinand does not feel that, after his tough upbringing in Peckham, south London, that he needs to be told by Lord Ouseley how he should be dealing with racism in the game.

Ferdinand already has grounds to feel that his England career has been ended because of the John Terry affair and a club fine now over this, of all issues, would certainly be very hard for the player to take. With only a year left on his contract, it could drive him towards one of the many lucrative offers which would come his way from the United States – where the Chicago Fire would relish the chance of signing him – China or Russia.

There is a view among many within the game that Ferguson was too quick to make his attack on Roberts, at his press conference on Friday, instead of waiting to discuss the issue with his players as some other managers had done.

Roberts, who also thought deeply about his decision not to wear a Kick It Out shirt, will this week offer to meet the organisation to discuss how he can help it to make more of an impact in counteracting the racism which still permeates the game. Since Kick It Out operates with five staff and a budget of only £300,000, lobbying for more realistic funding is part of the battle.

A caller to the BBC's 606 phone-in programme on Saturday evening provided evidence of the casual racism of an Aston Villa supporter towards the club's Belgian forward Christian Benteke, who is of Congolese extraction, at Craven Cottage that afternoon. The caller related how he was standing in a neutral area near the cottage at Fulham's ground when Benteke came on from the bench and a white supporter in his thirties shouted "give the coon the ball and he'll score". The caller, who later told the BBC's producers he had not reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police, said no Villa supporter had challenged the abuse. "Nobody confronted him," said the caller, Phil, from London. "I didn't confront him. There were six people with him and I was on my own. He'll know who he is. That's the problem we've got. We can all pay lip service but who will tell fans what [the repercussions] will be?"

Though there was support for Roberts' stance from many quarters yesterday, Twitter revealed once again what a vile repository it can be, when the 34-year-old player received more openly racist abuse.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there