Ferdinand 'backs breakaway union' for black footballers
Reports of a new body to represent black footballers greeted with dismay
RIO FERDINAND is reported to be one of several high-profile footballers behind a proposed breakaway players' union designed to protect the interests of black footballers.
The Daily Mail claims that the idea of a new group, to be known as The Federation of Black Players, is gathering momentum and that a draft constitution has already been drawn up. The group would be open to players from all ethnic backgrounds and would be self funded.
The controversial development comes after a series of race rows that have rocked English football. Former England captain John Terry was given a four-game ban earlier this month for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand's brother, Anton, in a game last season, and last weekend several black players, unhappy at official efforts to eradicate racism, refused to show support for the FA-backed Kick It Out campaign.
The Guardian reports that the idea "evidences growing disillusionment with the approach of the Football Association, Professional Footballers' Association and Kick it Out campaign to dealing with issues of racism".
According to the Mail: "The United defender and his colleagues want to tackle discrimination in all forms and will hold a series of meetings in London over the next few weeks... The union's mission statement is expected to honour the achievements of black footballers and promote unity within the sport at every level, from players to spectators."
However, Ferdinand appeared to distance himself from the claims this morning and many observers have reacted with dismay to news of the possible breakaway.
The Manchester United defender, who held clear the air talks with his manager Alex Ferguson over his refusal to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt, sent out a tweet on Tuesday that warned his followers: "Don't believe all u read."
Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers Association, which represents all players, told The Daily Telegraph he was dismayed by reports of a possible breakaway. "I feel we are imploding," he said. "The longer it goes on, the more divisive it is becoming... If they want their own particular select group who they feel they can influence everybody more than the whole PFA as a union together, I would say they are seriously mistaken."
Other observers also expressed concern. Eurosport's Early Doors blog said: "Just as targeting Kick It Out rather than the Football Association or Uefa at the weekend smacked of lashing out at the wrong target, threats to split from the PFA seem equally misjudged."