FA takes tough line over discrimination

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The Independent Football

The Football Association chairman, David Bernstein, last night issued a stern warning to players reminding them of their responsibilities to act appropriately and vowed strong sanctions against guilty individuals.

Speaking at a Kick It Out event at Wembley marking an alliance with Fifa, whose president, Sepp Blatter, was in attendance, to tackle prejudice in the game, Bernstein did not reference the ongoing investigation into John Terry or the FA charge against Rio Ferdinand directly, but insisted the organisation would punish heavily any form of discriminatory behaviour: "In this digital age of social media platforms and the ubiquitous nature of YouTube, the manifestations of discrimination in our game are rapidly changing. But the principles of how we must address it are the same.

"Firstly, we must continue to be tough as a regulatory body on sanctioning and disciplining inappropriate behaviour. Wherever possible we must bring incidents of discriminatory abuse to charge and all participants must know the consequence of their actions. This goes for the twittersphere as much as on the pitch, in the stands and in the recruitment process across football.

"Secondly, as a game we must remember that with the privilege of performing at the highest level comes a responsibility to behave appropriately," he added.

Lord Ouseley, Kick It Out's chairman, admitted the time taken to process Terry and Anton Ferdinand's case had shamed English football, and questioned whether the Chelsea defender should have represented England at Euro 2012 while pending a court appearance. "You represent the values and the respect that goes with it [playing for your country]. If those things are threatened by allegations, they need to be investigated first and concluded before you continue to enjoy that honour."