Kick It Out chairman ready to quit as he accuses Chelsea and Liverpool of a 'morality and leadership' failure
Lord Herman Ouseley critical of handling of John Terry and Luis Suarez racism cases
Tuesday 11 December 2012
Lord Ouseley is ready to quit as chairman of football's anti-racism campaign over his frustration at the “collective failure” of the game's authorities to deal with high-profile incidents in the past year.
Ouseley has been chairman of Kick It Out since their inception in 1997 but in a wide-ranging interview with the Evening Standard admits he could go in "days".
The 67-year-old accuses the game of "lacking morality" and criticises the authorities' inability to tackle the problem. "I may not be around," he said. "It could be a matter of days. It is as close as that."
The former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality's admission comes days after the issue returned to the headlines when a Swansea fan was arrested and charged with abusing Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong.
Ouseley said: "I believe there has been a collective failure on the part of people running the game. They have to come forward very soon with a plan to show that what happened in the last year will not happen again.
"We need to see some dynamic leadership from David Bernstein [Football Association], Richard Scudamore [Premier League] and Gordon Taylor [Professional Footballers' Association].
"Vile chanting and abusive behaviour is out there and we are in very dangerous times with the increase of right-wing activity and intolerance."
Ouseley criticised Liverpool for backing Luis Suarez after the striker was banned and fined for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
And he took Chelsea to task for backing John Terry in the lead up to his hearing for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Ouseley discloses: "I raised with Bruce Buck [chairman] and Ron Gourlay [chief executive] that the manager was prejudicing proceedings by forming a view before the matter was properly considered. Then things went quieter. My view is that football as a whole needs to show a greater sense of morality. You have a responsibility to the game and that's where it lacks leadership."
Ouseley received some 350 abusive emails from Liverpool fans when he criticised Dalglish over his attitude to the Suarez affair. But the 67-year-old, who came here as an 11-year-old from Guyana and suffered racial abuse and violence during his working career, wants to play down his own situation.
He adds: "When you've have bullets in the post and threats on your life and your family, abusive emails are not necessarily going to hurt you. As chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality I got excrement in the post.
"It was Anton Ferdinand who needed support. His mother was being threatened. His family were under siege. Roy Hodgson said he was leaving Rio out for footballing reasons but that did not prevent speculation that he ultimately lost his position in the England side because he could not play with Terry.
"Anton's attitude was, 'I'm the innocent one here.' He told me, 'If I had heard [what Terry had said], I would've probably got a red card.'"
Ferdinand did not specify what he would have done but Ouseley got the impression he would have thumped Terry, and says: "A lot of black players solve these things in the tunnel."
Ouseley also believes he was not given the full picture by Bernstein when he asked the FA chairman to axe Terry as England captain immediately after the incident in October 2011.
"The problem is that people were allowed to influence the process in their own way and do damage," he says. That damage he feels was done in the way Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish showed support for Suarez but also, he says: "We had an FA which wouldn't take the [England] captaincy away from Terry."
And Ouseley reveals: "I raised the matter with Bernstein on behalf of Kick It Out as soon as it happened. He said the FA's position is that the manager appoints the captain. He has total responsibility for the playing side.
"We said, 'But it is an honour to captain your country, an honour you bestow on someone who is the leader and sets the tone in football. If it's an honour and a man is being accused, then that honour should be suspended. That is what normally happens. Why does football shy away from that?'
"But Bernstein said, 'We have a contractual obligation of no interference with the role of the manager of the England team'.
"Eventually, they realised that England couldn't go to the European Championship with this thing hanging over them."
Terry was stripped of the captaincy in February this year, a move which saw boss Fabio Capello quit, but Ouseley said: "From the outset, the chairman said the FA had a policy and a contractual obligation of no interference with the role of the England manager. In other words, we cannot intervene. The manager appoints the captain, he has total responsibility for all the playing side."
Terry was then axed, said Ouseley, because, "they came to a realisation that they couldn't go to a major European competition with this thing hanging over them".
Drawing a chilling parallel with the 1970s, another period of economic austerity, Ouseley says: "Then the National Front organised outside and inside football. Now we have evidence of extreme organisations, the English Defence League and other fringe groups, that want to get a toehold back into football. They are trying to penetrate back into football.
"When people are unemployed, have little income, you once again have the spectre of massive movements of migrants from Eastern Europe, more people sleeping on the streets, then scapegoating comes to the fore as a way of venting frustrations. We've got to be careful because football offers very fertile terrain where people go to get rid of their frustrations."
An FA spokesman said today: "The FA had and continues to have an agreement with the England manager that he would have final say on squad selection - subject to certain caveats.
"When it became clear that the court case would be delayed until after the Euros, the FA Board - led by chairman David Bernstein - took a collective decision in these unique circumstances to remove the captaincy, whilst allowing the manager the authority on squad selection.
"The FA have subsequently introduced a Code of Conduct for England players which makes it clear that being an England captain is a privileged position which brings with it a higher level of responsibility. It gives authority for the Club England management to remove an England captain and/or exclude a player from any squad if appropriate."
Meanwhile, reports today have outlined a 93-point plan by football's authorities in response to Prime
Minister David Cameron's demands for tougher action on racism.
'English Football's Inclusion and Anti- Discrimination Action Plan' reveals the authorities are considering the introduction of cultural lessons for foreign players and a mandatory anti-discrimination clause in all players' and managers' contracts.
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