On Friday, Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson was asked about Jason Roberts decision to not wear the Kick It Out shirt before Reading’s game against Liverpool. Ferguson wasn’t a fan:
“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.
The part in bold is the most nonsensical thing I’ve read in some time. Roberts doesn’t believe wearing a shirt will do anything to create real change in a league that has had a horrible year in terms of racial incidents. Unfortunately, Ferguson isn’t alone. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the movement wouldn’t be credible if Black players didn’t wear the shirt. Maybe the movement doesn’t deserve credibility, Arsene. Maybe the players that have been subject to racial abuse know that wearing a shirt for 15 minutes before a game will do absolutely nothing to change a mindset that is ingrained amongst a segment of society.
Roberts explained his decision:
“I’m totally committed to kicking racism out of football but when there’s a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it.
Roberts also said he knew other Black players would join him. Rio Ferdinand was one of those them, much to the dismay of his boss.
Disgraceful Fergie quote: “I’m disappointed with Rio Ferdinand not wearing t-shirt. It’s an embarrassment for me and he will be dealt with.”
— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) October 20, 2012
Embarrassing. For a group of players struggling to understand the actions of the FA, a punishment to Ferdinand may be the final straw. Hopefully a night’s rest will allow Fergie the opportunity to reassess his ludicrous statement, but the damage has been done. Absolutely ridiculous.