Sunday 24 September 2017

England fans facing FIFA racism probe over chanting about Rio Ferdinand

Robin Scott-Elliott

England's supporters have been reported to Fifa by European football's anti-racist watchdog Fare for alleged racist chanting about Rio Ferdinand during last week's World Cup qualifier in San Marino.

If Fifa decide there is a case to answer, the FA could face an ultimate sanction of being forced to play a game behind closed doors, although a fine would be the most likely outcome.

Abusive chants about Ferdinand, who pulled out of the game citing fitness concerns only to fly to Doha to work as a pundit for Al Jazeera, were clearly heard during the match in San Marino last Friday.

England fans chanted "Rio Ferdinand, you know what you are" and then sung an obscene song that suggested Ferdinand and his brother Anton should be burnt on a bonfire.

"One of the things we want to underline straight off is that sometimes racism doesn't only take the form of monkey chants or bananas being thrown," said Piara Powar, head of Fare. "Sometimes there are things that are more subtle at play.

"We have a duty to report things that are said to us because individuals have reported them as racist or xenophobic within the context. We have people who look at this stuff and they have a fairly clear idea of the standards required by governing bodies."

Fifa is awaiting reports from its own match commissioner. A decision will not be made until the middle of next week as the governing body's offices are closed for Easter.

The FA has yet to receive Fare's report and was unaware of any allegations of racist chanting.

While the chants include no obvious racial references, it is the inclusion of Anton Ferdinand's name that raised Fare's concerns.

It was the younger Ferdinand whom John Terry was accused of racially abusing. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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