England fans accused of racially abusing Ferdinand brothers

England could face sanction after its supporters were reported to FIFA for signing racially abusive songs directed at Rio Ferdinand and his brother Anton during the World Cup qualification win over San Marino last Friday, ESPN has reported.

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) revealed they lodged a complaint with the world governing body over the content of some of the songs emanating from the England sections of the ground, with FARE’s executive director, Piara Powar, adding that the group wanted to highlight that racism is not always as explicit as it is portrayed.

Powar said: “I think that it’s one of those things that is very subtle. We would say racism and other forms of discrimination is not always banana throwing and monkey chants. It can be very subtle and the people collating the reports believed it is strong enough to send on to FIFA.

From the reports we have seen I personally think there was an undercurrent of race there, and other people have thought that it has been imbued with racist overtones.

Powar added that although FARE did not have a representative at the fixture, which England won 8-0, they have gathered information from people who were present, including the media, and studied footage of the match and the songs in question. The Football Association have yet to comment.

Rio Ferdinand was originally part of the England squad to play San Marino – and Montenegro shortly after – having been called-up for the first time by Roy Hodgson, after almost two years out of the international frame. The Manchester United defender however pulled out of the match due over a fitness issue, and instead flew to Dubai on a pre-planned trip and worked as a television pundit for the game.

Anton Ferdinand, meanwhile, was involved in a legal case against former England captain John Terry, who was accused and later cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence during Chelsea’s match with Ferdinand’s then team, Queens Park Rangers.

The row between Terry and the Ferdinands was suggested by some as a reason why Hodgson had declined to name Rio and Terry in the same England squad, something denied by the manager, while Terry was stripped of the England captaincy as a result of the FA’s investigation into the incident and subsequently retired from international football.

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