Football must 'crush' racism says Prime Minister

 

Swift action is required to "crush" any return of racism to football before it impacts on wider society, Prime Minister David Cameron said today.

The PM said he had seen for himself the influence that behaviour on the pitch could exercise over young children and others off it.

But, speaking at the opening of a Downing Street anti-discrimination summit with former players and football bosses, he expressed confidence that the good work of two decades in battling prejudice in the sport would not be lost.

Mr Cameron said: "If everyone plays their role, then we can easily crush and deal with this problem."

He told the panel, including former England stars John Barnes and Graeme Le Saux, that he often took his young son to local football matches and had seen the impact the game had.

"What happens on the field influences what happens off the field. You see children as young as six imitating the behaviour they see on the field," said Mr Cameron.

"So this is not just important for football, it's important for the whole country."

The Prime Minister said there were many "extraordinary role models" among professional footballers but that problems with racism had "crept back in".

"We want to make sure football is all about a power to do good, rather than anything else," he said.

The event to promote a more "inclusive" sport comes amid fears that high-profile incidents are harming football's image.

Earlier this month Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was forced to apologise for refusing to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra before the teams' match. Suarez had only recently returned to action for Liverpool following a ban for racially abusing Evra during a game in October.

England star John Terry is due to face trial over the summer on charges of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. Terry denies the charges.

The meeting is also looking at homophobia, with Amal Fashanu, who recently made a documentary about homosexuality in the sport, 14 years after her footballer uncle Justin hanged himself, also among those attending.

Mr Cameron said the UK should be proud of the "fantastic achievement" of the campaign to rid the sport of racism over the past two decades - noting that other countries had failed to take similar action.

"But we have some problems still today.

"We need to act quickly to make sure those problems do not creep back in.

"I hope what we can agree today is to make sure that everybody who has the ability to deal with this issue takes the steps they can. I am sure we can crack this problem."

That included the Government, clubs and other football bodies, he suggested.

Mr Cameron joked that he felt embarrassed coming from question time in the Commons to address the issue as it was "a contact sport that sets an appalling example to people".

Football Association chairman David Bernstein said his organisation was working at all levels from the grass roots up to deal with the issue and was determined not to allow any complacency because of the past success.

The governing body had already shown its willingness to deploy "very tough sanctions where necessary", he said - calling for action across the board from fans to players to managers, chairmen and authorities.

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam