Backlash ‘could lead to players’ silence’

Players’ union chief Gordon Taylor fears the recent crowd abuse suffered by Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand could deter footballers from complaining about racial discrimination.

Manchester United defender Evra was taunted by Liverpool fans 10 days ago after an independent inquiry ruled he had previously been racially abused by the Anfield club’s Luis Suarez.

Evra was again booed during Sunday’s Premier League game at Chelsea, while team-mate Rio Ferdinand was also a target for some sections of the home support.

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Ferdinand is the brother of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, whom it is alleged was racially abused by Chelsea captain John Terry last October. Terry, who denies the charge, is due to stand trial over the matter in July.

Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, said: “The big thing is with the likes of Patrice Evra – he has become a victim because he has made a complaint.

“The last thing we want is black players to feel there is no point making a complaint because they will then suffer a backlash. It is like that with a lot of other issues on equality, like homophobia.

“There is a fear that anyone who comes out and makes a complaint will receive this backlash and (it) puts off anyone else.

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People have got to be strong and believe what they are doing is right and stand up against racism.”

Taylor is saddened that after many years of strong campaigning to eradicate racism from the British game, the matter has resurfaced this season.

He said: “There is an element of abuse now coming into crowds and it is not always easy to control that. There has been a backward step of late.”

He added: “There are some excellent campaigns and I don’t want people to think all the progress we have made in the last two decades has been wiped out.”