Ferdinand: Issues need solving before England can host World Cup

News Desk
Anton Ferdinand England
Anton Ferdinand

Anton Ferdinand believes England should be barred from hosting another major football tournament until racist abuse and social disorder problems can be eradicated from the game.

England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday was marred by scores of ticketless fans trying to break into Wembley, while Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were subjected to racist abuse on social media.

Ugly scenes in London’s Leicester Square and at Wembley before and after the penalty shoot-out defeat will also have damaged the nation’s chances of hosting the 2030 World Cup.

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And former West Ham and QPR defender Ferdinand has admitted England should be thwarted in their bid unless the off-field problems can be tackled.

Asked if England should be denied host status until the wider issues are solved, Ferdinand told the PA news agency: “Yes, there should be consequences, there definitely should be consequences.

“That’s how people learn, but you’ve got to be willing to learn, that’s the problem. You’ve got to be willing to understand and be open-minded on what it is, especially when talking about the discrimination side of things.

“A lot of people who shout obscenities and things like that, they will never know what it’s like to be racially abused, racially profiled, but what they can do is try to understand it.

“We’re in a different generation now, what we’re seeing is a multi-cultural stance. It’s no longer just ethnic minorities speaking about this.

“So it’s time for these bigots and these uneducated fools to get in tune with today’s society. And for people who know it’s wrong and don’t want to speak out about it and check these people, you’re also part of the problem.

“To combat this and try to eradicate it, everyone needs to speak about it, not just the people on the receiving end.”

Ferdinand has been campaigning against online abuse as part of BT Sport’s Hope United campaign.

The Peckham-born defender was embroiled in a long-running racism saga after accusing Chelsea’s John Terry of abusing him in a match against QPR in 2011.

Terry was cleared by Westminster Magistrates’ Court of racially abusing Ferdinand in 2012 but the Football Association found him guilty following a four-day hearing. Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000.

The 36-year-old Ferdinand has spoken out against discrimination ever since, and hailed Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate as the template for anyone looking to learn how to change their outlook when it comes to social and racial issues.

“Gareth’s a perfect example, of trying to understand and getting to understand a different culture,” said Ferdinand, speaking as a BT Sport Hope United ambassador.

“And trying to understand what it feels like. He’s never going to know the feeling, but he’s willing to understand. And that is the difference between the golden generation to this generation.

“The camaraderie in this team is why we got to the final, along with the quality of players in the team that we’ve got of course. But the camaraderie, the team spirit shone through for me more than anything.

“That togetherness, it expanded out into the masses of the nation. That’s how powerful Gareth Southgate’s stance, and the way that he’s been dealing with these issues, that’s how powerful it’s been.

“So if there’s anyone to model yourself on as a middle-aged white male, look at our leader of the FA in terms of our national team. Look at what he’s achieved by opening his mind and understanding different cultures.

“He’s given us one of the greatest nights, and greatest days, after 55 years, the jubilation after the semi-final was unbelievable. The social media abuse is heartbreaking, but I’m not surprised.

“People need to wake up: our team is multi-cultural. There will never, ever be an all-white England team again. Look through the age groups, they are multi-cultural.

“I believe in this team, I think this will spur us on to go and do well in the World Cup. Look at the pattern, semi-final, final; now we’ve got to go and win something, and I believe in this group of players.

“It’s not always been about tactics for Gareth Southgate, it’s about the person, and the personnel. Yes you need ability, but togetherness is what wins trophies. Gareth’s attitude definitely gives me hope that things can change.”