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.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
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

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness