There was a match today. It was quite entertaining too as Manchester United bagged four goals against Stoke City -- well, actually five if you count Wayne Rooney's own goal. After the match though, much of the attention has been centered on remarks by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in regards to Rio Ferdinand's refusal to wear a t-shirt in support of the 'Kick It Out' campaign.
Quite honestly, for me, this whole racism issue in regards to football -- specifically in England -- has become tiresome. It's not that I don't think racism isn't a very important issue (it is), nor do I believe raising awareness isn't a good thing (it is), it's more that many football fans are frankly ridiculous with their opinions and some are blinded by tribalism. In addition, I write on this site because it's fun. Debating racism isn't fun. Nonetheless, the community here at TBB are generally a thoughtful and logical bunch -- as were some of our site's guests, Liverpool fans too, during the whole Patrice Evra/Luis Suarez saga.
We don't know the happenings behind the scenes or if Rio and Sir Alex had communicated much prior to today's pre-game warmups. What we do know though is that the United manager had this to say yesterday during his weekly press conference. He was quite critical of Reading's Jason Roberts for his announcement that he would not be wearing a 'Kick It Out' t-shirt out of protest:
"I have to disagree with Jason Roberts, he is making the wrong point. Everyone should be united, all the players in the country wearing the top, the warm-up tops. I do not know what point he is trying to make or trying to put himself on a different pedestal to everyone else. He really should be supporting all the rest of the players who are doing something. If you are doing something then everyone who believes in it should do it together, we should not have sheep walking off. He is making the wrong message.Yes, all my players will wear it. I think all the players will be wearing it. I only heard that Jason Roberts is different. He is very different, he plays his game and is in the studio 20 minutes after it, it's a great privilege."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
Suarez was given a pretty hefty punishment -- even if you happen to think it wasn't harsh enough -- and Evra has seemingly moved on now. Rio, however, and his family, certainly feel aggrieved by his brother Anton Ferdinand's situation with Chelsea's John Terry. While the Chelsea captain has been punished by the Football Association (FA) for racially abusing Anton -- it seems rather ridiculous by the way that Chelsea wouldn't take away the armband instantly after Terry accepted his punishment -- his punishment was not nearly as harsh as Suarez's. Presumably, this is why Rio is taking a stance and refused to wear a t-shirt to support 'Kick It Out' -- it's obviously not because he doesn't believe in taking a stand versus racism, it seemingly is because he believes the 'Kick It Out' campaign, specifically, is rubbish. Here were Fergie's comments after today's game about Rio's refusal to wear the t-shirt:
"I’m disappointed because I said in the press conference yesterday that all the players would be wearing the T-shirt. We did that in support of the PFA and every player in the country should have adhered to that. We’re all wearing the badges and he goes and lets us all down. We’ll deal with it, don’t worry about that"
- Ferguson | Source: MUTV
In contrast to Fergie's stance on the issue, Reading manager Brian McDermott offered full support to his player Roberts:
"I support him 100%. He had his reasons. Jason had his view and it was a very strong view. We spoke on Friday and I totally respect his view."
- McDermott | Source: BBC
As mentioned previously, there certainly shades of gray in this issue because we don't know what sort of communication, or possible lack of, was had between Fergie and Rio. However, I'm sure most of you have an opinion on how the matter was handled. Was Sir Alex right to hit out at Rio in the manner that he did in regards to the player's 'Kick It Out' stance? Or was he wrong?