Rio Ferdinand follows Raheem Sterling by issuing a strong anti-racism message
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has issued a strong message against racism.
Football has been rocked by a number of incidents in recent weeks, which include Raheem Sterling receiving racist abuse while on international duty with England, and unfortunately have been witnessed in a number of games across the country.
That has sparked a debate about what should be done to combat the issue, with one popular response being to walk of the field when these situations occur.
“I think it’s difficult. I personally wouldn’t have walked off. I was involved in situations where I never walked off. I was like Raheem, I wanted to win, shove it back down people’s throats and hopefully the authorities will deal with it,” he told BT Sport.
“Now, history tells you that the authorities don’t deal with it with the severity that it deserves so something drastic has got to happen, I think. It might be walking off the pitch.
“A manager might be standing up and thinking: ‘Look, come off the pitch’ and then people would then come in the stadiums and the authorities would have to have a real look at themselves. ‘Listen, what do we need to do to address this because at the moment it’s not happening.’
“And it’s easier – it’s not easy but it’s easier – for the lads like Raheem etc, people at the top level because they get the exposure. My concern a lot of the time is for the people in the lower leagues.”
While the recent incidents have seen a lot of prominent black players speak out, Ferdinand added that it is time for white players to also make a stand to issue a strong message.
“I think a black guy doing that (walking off), people will just say he’s playing the race card. But if you’ve got a prominent white player or white manager saying ‘Listen, I’m not having this’ then that could become something,” he said.
“I think that’s the thing that could change people’s mindsets because you’ve got the man on the street, he isn’t listening to Raheem Sterling talking about racism. If Harry Kane or someone prominent like that from the England team or players over here speak, a white supporter who’s racist will go: ‘Wow actually I can familiarise myself with that white player so maybe I’ll look at things differently.’ There’s a chance that could happen but we need to see more of that happening.”
Ferdinand finished by urging the authorities to take more action, stating that their current work is not enough and explained why he didn’t wear Kick It Out t-shirts during his career.
“I didn’t wear it because I felt they’re not proactive, they’re reactive to situations. I don’t believe you should celebrate just one day of Kick It Out through wearing a t-shirt,” he added.
“It should be throughout the year. We should see proactive actions and things going on from people like that and organisations like that all year round, not just one day.
“Raheem was going to tell you and his comments there say ‘They’ve not been there for me. They’ve not come to me and said this is how we can sort it out.’ Let’s get a group of footballers together – not just black footballers – from all different backgrounds and let’s speak to the people that are out on the pitch and sort it out.”