'There shouldn't be sheep wandering off': Alex Ferguson questions Jason Roberts over Kick It Out stance
Sir Alex Ferguson says all players should wear 'Kick It Out' T-shirts ahead of tomorrow's Premier League games, including Jason Roberts who has said he will refuse to.
Players throughout the Premier League are due to wear T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the anti-discrimination charity this weekend. But Roberts says he feels "let down" by perceived failures of 'Kick It Out', and has decided to make his stance clear by refusing to wear the T-shirt.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes that sends a confusing message, and has condemned Roberts' stance.
"I have to disagree with Jason Roberts. I think he is making the wrong point," the Manchester United manager said this morning.
"Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick it Out warm-up tops."
Roberts has been angered by the lack of action over the last year, including how the high-profile racism cases involving Luis Suarez and John Terry were dealt with.
"I find it hard to wear a T-shirt after what has happened in the last year. I won't wear one," the Reading striker told the BBC.
"I'm totally committed to kicking racism out of football but when there's a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it.
"I think people feel let down by what used to be called 'Let's Kick Racism Out of Football'. People don't feel like they have been strong enough."
Roberts' Reading side play Liverpool this weekend in a match that will feature Suarez, a player banned for eight games after directing racist language at Patrice Evra.
Ferguson added today that he is unclear what Roberts will achieve by refusing to wear the T-shirt.
"I don't know what point he is trying to make.
"I don't know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone. But he really should be supporting all the rest of the players who are doing it."
"When you do something, and everyone believes in it, you should all do it together. There shouldn't be sheep wandering off.
"I think he is making the wrong message.
"All the players are wearing it. I have only heard that Jason Roberts is different - but he is very different. He plays a game and is in the studio 20 minutes after it. That is a great privilege."
Lord Herman Ouseley, the Kick It Out chairman, has tried to placate Roberts.
"He's not been slow in coming forward about this and I respect his views," said Ouseley.
"I can understand his frustrations. If Kick It Out had the power to sort this out then we would have done. Sorry Jason, we don't have that kind of power.
"We in English football have to get our house back in order," he added. "We have to make sure that the things that have happened in the last year do not happen again, and if they are then they are dealt with in a matter of days rather than taking a year to resolve."
There have been rumours that Roberts would not be alone in refusing to wear the T-shirt, with Aston Villa's black players joining the Reading striker. But manager Paul Lambert said today that all his players would be wearing them ahead of their match at Fulham.
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