Clubs 'dragging feet' over racism claim politicians

 

Politicians have called for an inquiry into racism in football today, claiming the Football Association and individual clubs are "dragging their feet" over the issue.

The comments from members of the All-Party Football Group (APFG) came after Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi broke down in tears after apparently being subjected to racist abuse from a supporter in the stands at Anfield during an FA Cup clash with Liverpool.

A 20-year-old man was arrested and bailed for allegedly racially abusing the player at the match on Friday.

Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South and a member of the APFG, said: "An inquiry will be welcome, but it has to have real teeth.

"The abuse is completely unacceptable."

Race rows have plagued football in recent weeks, with England captain John Terry accused of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand - a claim he strenuously denies - and Liverpool's Uruguayan star Luis Suarez receiving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

"The FA themselves have dragged their feet repeatedly over this," said Mr Hancock.

"They are just so unable to feel the resentment over their inaction over racism and the general malaise football is in."

Mr Hancock also aimed his ire at the clubs involved.

"It is totally irresponsible, the clubs' attitude on it," he said.

"They are talking the talk but they are not doing much about it."

He was backing up an initial call from Ian Lucas, Labour MP for Wrexham and an APFG member, to help clubs and the FA who are "struggling" to deal with the issue.

"We have an ability in the parliamentary group to be seen as independent," said Mr Lucas.

"That, I think, is causing problems for the FA and individual clubs, who can be seen as self-serving.

"It would be helpful to have an inquiry. There seems to be a particular problem at the moment."

Piara Powar, head of European football's anti-racism group FARE, criticised Liverpool at the weekend, saying the saga over Suarez's ban has created a "tribal fervour" at Anfield that could have contributed to the abuse of Adeyemi, which appeared to come from the home supporters' section.

Powar told Sportsweek on BBC Radio Five Live yesterday: "If you look at the comments (Liverpool manager Kenny) Dalglish has been making, if you look at how Liverpool resort to defend what they see as an injustice, look at the way their fans have been whipped up into a tribal fervour."

On Saturday, Mr Powar Tweeted: "Are LFC fans going to do this at every game, support the mistakes made by their own man by abusing others? 25% of PL (Premier League) players are black."

Mr Lucas MP said Liverpool should have acted differently.

"Perhaps they should think again about the way they respond to actions," he said.

Liverpool FC issued an apology for the abuse of Adeyemi last night: "Whatever the outcome of what is now a police investigation, all of us are deeply sorry for what happened on Friday night and our players and our club pass on our sincere regrets to Tom Adeyemi for the upset and distress he suffered as a result of the matter at hand."

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East and APFG treasurer, played down talk of an inquiry but said the issue is likely to be raised at the group's next meeting.

"We are about to have an AGM and it is an issue that the group will consider discussing if members wish to do so," he said.

"I am not saying that this issue is not an important one but if it were to happen it would need quite a lot of resources, which the group does not have. You would have to raise quite a lot of funding."

PA

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