Ferguson fears that racism is returning

United manager mystified by recent cases and wants any abuse to be tackled now

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has made his first contribution to the debate on the re-emergence of racism in football, suggesting four days before Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez face each other again at Old Trafford that he does believe the issue is returning to the game.

With the Football Association expecting Manchester United and Liverpool to abide by a commitment not to inflame tensions before the sides meet again on Saturday lunchtime, Ferguson said that the re-emergence of the prejudice which beset the game 20 years ago has mystified him.

"I don't understand at all where it's coming from, to be honest with you, I don't understand it at all," Ferguson said. "This is a moment where we have to take stock and we should do something about it if it's surfacing again, and be really hard and firm on any form or shape of racism. There have been a couple of examples recently which is not good. In 2012, you can't believe it. It was obvious maybe 20 years ago and the improvements have been for everyone to see."

The manager's comments came on the day that two teenagers who racially abused the Newcastle United striker Sammy Ameobi on Twitter were given final warnings by police. There is evidence that social networking sites have been a vehicle for racist abuse following allegations against Suarez and Chelsea's John Terry. But Ferguson's words appear to reflect Suarez's ban for the use of the word "negro" against United defender Evra and they will infuriate the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, who has never accepted the verdict of an FA-appointed independent regulatory commission.

Dalglish first risked re-igniting the row with United on Monday night, when he said that Suarez should never have been banned, a comment which the FA does not consider to have been helpful. Ferguson's own contribution was made at around the same time, in an interview with CNN at the Laureus World Sports awards in London on Monday evening.

Until now, his only contribution to the race debate had been his declaration on 23 December that "the [Suarez/Evra] matter is over and I think we're satisfied that the FA have found the right decision".

But with Terry to stand trial in July to deny a charge that he racially abused Queen's Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand, Ferguson was willing to expand. "I have had some fantastic black players, absolutely magnificent black players, and with every one of them I have enjoyed my working relationship with them," he said. "But this is a moment where we have to take stock. I think we should do something about it if it's surfacing again, and be really hard and firm on any form or shape of racism."

It is a matter of debate whether the type of on-pitch racism which beset the game in the 1980s has actually returned, or whether the underlying problem is individual cases proving to be an excuse for despicable behaviour from those who watch the game. Anton Ferdinand received a bullet in the post before QPR faced Chelsea in the FA Cup last month. Fans subsequently booed Evra at Anfield and Rio Ferdinand at Stamford Bridge – simply because he had supported his brother, Anton.

The FA will not re-issue its reminder to United and Liverpool of their responsibilities not to inflame tensions ahead of Saturday's match, though the game's governing body does consider tweets from players to be a form of public communication which carry a responsibility.

Wayne Rooney's use of Twitter to say that Suarez should have been sent off for his challenge on Tottenham Hotspur's Scott Parker at Anfield on Monday night was incendiary, posted as it was three minutes after the Uruguayan's return from the eight-game ban imposed for the racial abuse of Evra.

The FA sees Rooney's message as an opinion, rather than an attempt to stoke the atmosphere before the Premier League match in which Suarez is likely to start his first game for Liverpool since his ban. It remains unclear if United, like Manchester City, will ask their players to desist from any potentially inflammatory use of Twitter this week.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on