Jason Roberts will again refuse to wear Kick It Out T-shirt


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The Independent Football

Jason Roberts has again refused to wear a T-shirt in support of anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out this weekend but gave his tentative support to the Professional Footballers Association's six-point plan designed to eradicate the problem within the game.

Reading striker Roberts was one of a number of black players, which also included Anton and Rio Ferdinand, who boycotted the awareness campaign last weekend by opting not to wear the T-shirts in the warm-up before their respective Barclays Premier League matches.

Roberts is a Kick It Out ambassador, but has become dismayed at what he sees as the football authorities' perceived failure to come down hard on those found guilty of racism.

For that reason he will not wear the shirt again on Saturday before Reading host Fulham.

"No, I won't (wear the shirt) - that's my own choice," the 34-year-old said.

"If it was a T-shirt from another organisation I wouldn't have worn that either.

"This is not an attack on Kick It Out. I am passionate about the PFA and Kick It Out but they have to do better, we have to do better.

"When we have implemented changes, when we are acting and things are being done, I will be the first person wearing a shirt and driving up and down the country again in my car speaking to kids again about this."

The issue of racism in football has reared its head of late.

Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches for an incident involving Patrice Evra and John Terry is serving a four-match suspension for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, although the Chelsea captain was cleared in a criminal court of a similar charge.

Danny Rose also appeared to be subjected to racist chants in Serbia just over a week ago and Lazio were fined earlier this season after their fans monkey chanted at Tottenham's players in their Europa League game at White Hart Lane.

The PFA's six-point plan includes the possible implementation of the Rooney Rule - an initiative established in the United States which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching positions.

Roberts thinks the rule is a good idea given the troubles football has had with racism recently.

"I think last year shone a light on the racism issue," Roberts said.

"I think things could have been handled better from everyone. As a result of that people are looking at the issue and the wider issue, not specific instances (of racism).

"I think one of the issues is the employment side of things.

"There are issues and solutions, like the Rooney Rule, and I think it's a step in the right direction.

"It is not everything that has been put forward. It's a start."

Roberts also gave his backing to the PFA's idea that any player who is found guilty of racism should be sacked, regardless of their worth.

He said: "I would agree with that point. You would think that something like that would already be written in.

"It just shows that we are reacting and not being proactive. That is something I believe the majority of people would believe in and I am quite surprised it's not been in there already."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson condemned Roberts for refusing to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt ahead of Reading's loss to Liverpool, but Royals manager Brian McDermott offered his 34-year-old striker his support today.

"I'm proud of him," McDermott said.

"I think what Jason has done has definitely helped (the anti-racism campaign).

"This hasn't been disruptive to us. It has brought it to a lot of people's attention.

"People put T-shirts and badges on once a year, they do it the following year, and then the following year.

"Now things are starting to be done."