FA seeking evidence over chanting

The FA have yet to uncover any evidence of an alleged "racist" song being directed towards Rio and Anton Ferdinand.

Last Updated: 08/04/13 at 08:57 Post Comment

Anton and Rio Ferdinand: Subjects of an alleged 'racist' song

Anton and Rio Ferdinand: Subjects of an alleged 'racist' song

The Football Association has yet to uncover any evidence of an alleged "racist" song being directed towards Rio and Anton Ferdinand during last Friday's World Cup qualifier in San Marino.

According to reports, a number of England supporters joined in with a song that suggested the brothers should be burned on a bonfire.

Leading anti-racism group FARE has made a complaint to FIFA over the song, which it claims could be perceived as having racial connotations.

The FA insists it is taking the matter seriously, and is not doubting allegations that the specific song was sung, but concede they have yet to be able to verify the claims.

"While we have no reason to dispute the media reports which are without doubt made for the right reasons of fighting racism, at this time we have not found any recorded evidence of the specific discriminatory chanting referring to Rio and Anton Ferdinand and the vile 'bonfire' song," said Club England managing director Adrian Bevington.

"We will of course continue to review all of our recorded footage."

Rio Ferdinand was targeted by England fans after the controversy over his withdrawal from Roy Hodgson's squad.

Some observers felt the 'bonfire' song, which has been heard at many English grounds with various adaptations, is going beyond acceptable banter.

Now the FA is in danger of finding itself in the dock if evidence of the chanting is not unearthed.

"The FA takes all incidents and allegations of racism extremely seriously," said Bevington.

"In San Marino, we had FA security officers monitoring the English supporters in the stadium. This includes recorded video footage.

"We also worked closely with UK Police in advance of and on the night of the game.

"We recognise the importance of FARE's responsibility to report any incidents to FIFA. We will liaise with FIFA and work with them to assist any investigation.

"Should evidence of any racial chanting be found, we would expect action to be taken against any individuals.

"We would expect banning orders to be issued by the courts as a minimum penalty.

"We do not want supporters who chant vile or racist abuse following the England team.

"The FA will continue to work closely with Kick it Out and FARE to ensure we do all we can to eradicate racism from football. We fully recognise that we must continue to address any issues that arise involving our own supporters in the same manner we expect other nations to do so.

"We should also make clear that in addition to the officially ticketed England fans in San Marino, there was also a large number of non-members who did not receive tickets through The FA.

"The FA has a stringent approach to ticketing and security, working closely with UK Police and other UK agencies. We will continue to take every possible measure to ensure our supporters conduct themselves appropriately, as most have over the past decade.

"However, we will not accept any racist chanting and we also call on those attending England matches at home and abroad to stop the 'No Surrender' chanting during the singing of the national anthem, both before and during games.

"We have made significant progress following the hooliganism that blighted the national team in 1998 and 2000. We must continue to maintain this hard work."

The FA statement comes after Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley earlier called on the organisation to take a stance on the "vile" and "abusive" chants.

Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Whether it's racist or not, it's certainly unacceptable. It's vile and it shouldn't be part of sport. Something needs to be done about it.

"These are the supporters of the England national team who are travelling abroad and singing songs like that. What messages does it send out about the type of people we are and who we represent?

"The Football Association should be taking a stance on this about the people it wants supporting the England team, the image it wants to send abroad.

"I've already contacted the chairman of the Football Association and said this has to be looked at, investigated and dealt with. Do you want to be having an army of fans who call themselves the England fans travelling abroad, being abusive to their own players like that, or indeed other people?

"FIFA will determine (whether it is racist) but clearly we can take a stance on that. We have policies on anti-racism, homophobia and all other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Why are we so quiet about it?"

FIFA earlier confirmed it was looking into FARE's complaint,

In a statement to Press Association Sport, the governing body said: "We can confirm that FIFA has been contacted by FARE regarding the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between San Marino and England last Friday.

"FIFA will now analyse the content of the documents and next steps will be determined in due course."


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