Rio Ferdinand will wear anti-racism T-shirt, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Manager criticises Jason Roberts for 'making the wrong message' about Kick It Out

Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Rio Ferdinand that he must comply with instructions to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt before today's game with Stoke City at Old Trafford, despite the Manchester United defender considering a boycott over what he perceives to be failures in the handling of the John Terry affair.

Ferguson insisted that "all the players" would be wearing the T-shirt and he issued a barbed criticism of Reading's Jason Roberts, who has publicly revealed his intent to boycott the white T-shirt, having privately informed Kick It Out of that decision months ago. Ferdinand's deliberations on the issue also store up potential controversy for next weekend when Chelsea's nominated game to publicise Kick It Out's annual "One Game, One Community" is the home match against United. The 33-year-old may find it doubly difficult to wear a T-shirt before that fixture.

Anton Ferdinand's Queen's Park Rangers manager, Mark Hughes, said he expected his player to wear a T-shirt against Everton tomorrow.

Ferguson said Roberts, who believes that Kick it Out is fatally flawed by lacking independence from the Football Association, was "making the wrong point" by rejecting the organisation. "Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick It Out warm-up tops," the United manager said. "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."

Roberts was travelling to Anfield yesterday for Reading's match with Liverpool this afternoon and was unwilling to discuss Ferguson's comments as he prepared himself for that fixture. But privately, the 34-year-old is deeply disappointed by the United manager's response, particularly the inference that he is seeking attention. Roberts's decision is an individual one and he has not sought to recruit other players, such as either of the Ferdinands, to create a broader protest.

The Kick it Out chairman, Lord Herman Ouseley, told Roberts in a BBC interview last night that wealthy, powerful players should not expect his organisation to be a voice for all black players. "I have no intention of speaking for black footballers who have lots of money and power. They have much more power if they organise themselves. Don't pretend that Kick it Out would be more powerful by being independent," he said.

The organisation has positioned itself as an ally to Anton Ferdinand in the Terry case, with one of its representatives sitting alongside the player's advisers, Pete Smith and Jamie Moralee, in accompanying the QPR player during Terry's Westminster Magistrates' Court hearing this summer. Lord Ouseley has strongly criticised the way Liverpool dealt with the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra case and was also quick on Thursday to attack both the failure of Terry to extend an apology to Ferdinand for directing racist abuse at him during last season's Loftus Road fixture and of Chelsea's failure to be transparent about the club fine meted out to the player.

Yet Roberts is among a number of black players who feel a stronger voice is needed against racism in the game. There is also frustration in the Roberts camp that the striker and broadcaster has been left among black members of the football fraternity to speak up on racism, with Rio Ferdinand's own views on the subject emerging only in fragments on Twitter or occasional interviews.

Mark McCammon, the black former Barbados international whom an employment tribunal found three months ago to have been racially victimised in his dismissal by Gillingham, told The Independent yesterday that he was "disappointed" it was being left to Roberts to speak out. He said that something more than "T-shirts and bulletins" were needed to enforce the point that racism was still present in the game.

"Why is Kick It Out such a small organisation? Is this how seriously people are taking it?" asked McCammon, who has now left the game. "This all just gets swept under the carpet. People just say you've got a chip on your shoulder. Now Sir Alex Ferguson, a white person, thinks he is in a position to say what he has said about Jason Roberts. He is one of the best managers in the world but that doesn't make him the best in the world for an understanding of racism."

Kick It Out's former director Piara Powar, now executive director of the Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) network, said he appreciated Roberts's frustration but insisted his former organisation was not a part of the problem. "If Kick It Out had not been in existence over the past 20 years the situation would be worse," Powar said. "There has been some discontent amongst black players for some time – the discontent is with the FA and the sense that English football has failed to effectively deal with the John Terry situation. More militancy from black players is welcome; they are in a powerful position. The public will understand the sense of anger over the fact that players are in the front line of abuse and this feeling that the authorities have not acted in the right way in every case; it has led to an unprecedentedly bitter and divisive year.

"The whole situation has highlighted how English football has been tackling racism for a long time, but a lot of it has felt like lip service."

Who are Kick It Out? Factfile

Founded in 1993 as a campaign, Lets Kick Racism Out of Football, and became an organisation four years later. Is pledged to combat discrimination in all forms in the game.

Funded by a number of bodies including the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Football Association and the Premier League.

First Kick It Out week of action was in 2001. Ironically the Queen’s Park Rangers v Chelsea game when John Terry clashed with Anton Ferdinand was during last year’s week.

Has a budget of approximately £500,000 most coming from the FA, the PFA and the Premier League and employs seven people.

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
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

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn