Rio Ferdinand has expressed his shock over allegations that he and his brother Anton were the subject of racist songs by England supporters during last week's World Cup qualifier in San Marino, although the Football Association said today it has yet to find any "recorded evidence" of such chants.
Fare, Europe football's anti-racist watchdog, has submitted a report to Fifa over the behaviour of a section of England fans last Friday. Fifa will decide next week whether the FA face any charges over the chants, which are alleged to have included an offensive song about the Ferdinand brothers being burnt on a bonfire.
Ferdinand published two tweets today. The first said: "You expect and accept banter from fans on the terraces as it's part of what makes the game great but racism is not banter...and from your own fans? WOW."
The second added: "Always a small minority who ruin it for others. Let's not jump to conclusions and assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll see after the investigation."
Fifa's investigation will be completed next week but in the meantime the FA has reviewed its coverage of the match. Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England, the section of the FA that deals with the national side, said: "While we have no reason to dispute the media reports which are without doubt made for the right reasons of fighting racism, at this time we have not found any recorded evidence of the specific discriminatory chanting referring to Rio and Anton Ferdinand and the vile 'bonfire' song."
The FA had security officers at the game to monitor England supporters. Fare's report was compiled on evidence of people at the match rather than their own observers.
"We recognise the importance of Fare's responsibility to report any incidents," said Bevington. "We will liaise with Fifa and assist any investigation. Should evidence of any racial chanting be found, we would expect action to be taken against any individuals. We do not want supporters who chant vile or racist abuse following the England team."
It was the fact that Fare compiled their report on the strength of other witnesses that the Football Supporters' Federation felt was "dangerous".
FSF spokesman Kevin Miles said: "The idea that England fans should be reported for what is effectively hearsay is dangerous."
If Fifa decide there is a case to answer it would first be the FA, rather than individuals, held accountable with the ultimate sanction being England having to play a match behind closed doors. Bevington added: "We will not accept any racist chanting and we also call on those attending England matches to stop the 'No Surrender' chanting during the singing of the national anthem."
Lord Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, today discussed the allegations with David Bernstein, the FA chairman. Ouseley said: "Whether it's racist or not, it's certainly unacceptable. It's vile and it shouldn't be part of sport. What messages does it send out about the type of people we are and who we represent?"