The chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Clarke Carlisle, has supported Rio Ferdinand in his stance after the Manchester United defender declined to wear a t-shirt supporting the Kick It Out campaign against the express wishes of his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, the BBC
Ferdinand was one of a number of players from a number of clubs not to wear the shirt in the warm-up before the latest round of Premier League fixtures, with the apparel to mark the start of Kick It Out’s week of events to promote their cause.
The furore comes shortly after Chelsea captain John Terry was punished by the Football Association for using racist language towards the younger Ferdinand brother, Queens Park Rangers defender Anton. Terry was cleared of an offence in Westminster Magistrates’ Court but later found to have contravened FA rules and subsequently banned for four games.
Ferguson had said at his pre-match press conference that all United players would wear the Kick It Out shirts before the match with Stoke City, and criticised Ferdinand after the 4-2 victory for not doing so.
Carlisle, the York City defender who is also an ambassador for Kick It Out, nevertheless supported Ferdinand’s right not to wear the shirt while calling for continued support for the anti-racism campaign. He said: “Everyone has a right to free speech. Just like you can’t coerce anyone into shaking hands, you can’t make somebody wear a T-shirt, although I do personally believe that joining in with the campaign is the best way forward.”
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