Evra crowd abuse could deter racism complaints, says PFA chief


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The Independent Football

Players' union chief Gordon Taylor fears the recent crowd abuse suffered by Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand could deter footballers from complaining about racial discrimination.

Manchester United defender Evra was taunted by Liverpool fans last week after an independent inquiry ruled he had previously been racially abused by the Anfield club's Luis Suarez.

Evra was again booed during yesterday's Barclays Premier League game at Chelsea, while team-mate Rio Ferdinand was also a target for some sections of the home support.

Ferdinand is the brother of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, whom it is alleged was racially abused by Chelsea captain John Terry last October.

Terry, who denies the charge, is due to stand trial over the matter in July.

Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said: "The big thing is with the likes of Patrice Evra - he has become a victim because he has made a complaint.

"The last thing we want is black players to feel there is no point making a complaint because they will then suffer a backlash. It is like that with a lot of other issues on equality, like homophobia.

"There is a fear that anyone who comes out and makes a complaint will receive this backlash and puts off anyone else.

"People have got to be strong and believe what they are doing is right and stand up against racism."

Taylor is saddened that after many years of strong campaigning to eradicate racism from the British game, the matter has resurfaced this season.

However, he believes there is one crucial difference from the 1970s and 1980s.

Taylor said: "There is an element of abuse now coming into crowds and it is not always easy to control that. There has been a backward step of late.

"But people are saying it is a return to the bad old days and I don't believe that. In the bad old days there would not have been the level of discussion that there is now.

"There are some excellent campaigns and I don't want people to think all the progress we have made in the last two decades has been wiped out. I don't want any black players to feel that has all been for nothing.

"The very fact it is so high up the agenda and taken as seriously now is a situation that just wasn't the case many years ago.

"This has just reinforced the message that we have got to keep working at the campaigns. It is an education process.

"It is something we believe in at the PFA and will continue to press onwards with. It is bigger than any player or club or the game itself."

The game at Stamford Bridge came after Chelsea skipper Terry was stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association due to his pending trial.

The FA felt the matter could overshadow the build-up to Euro 2012 but stressed they were not prejudging the outcome of the trial.

Taylor believes the FA took the correct decision and feels comments from manager Fabio Capello, saying he disagrees, are unhelpful.

He said: "If the captain, who has to do main press conferences, was forever going to be put under questioning as to whether he should be captain with that charge against him, that would take away the issue from football.

"This was an elephant in the room that wasn't going to go away and I felt the FA tried to negotiate through that moral maze by deciding to say he wouldn't be captain.

"In order to take the pressure off that particular issue and concentrate on football, from that point of view, we respected that decision.

"It is just unfortunate the manager doesn't seem to be on board and understand the reasons why that was done."