QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and a number of his team-mates – plus players from opponents Everton – did not wear t-shirts in support of the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign ahead of their Premier League clash.
The 27-year-old was the victim of racial abuse from Chelsea skipper John Terry in a league match last October, with Terry accepting a four-match suspension and £220,000 fine relating to the incident earlier this week.
Ferdinand was joined in not wearing the t-shirt by Rangers team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Junior Hoilett, following the stance taken by Ferdinand’s brother Rio prior to Manchester United’s game against Stoke on Saturday and by Reading striker Jason Roberts.
Everton’s Nigeria international Victor Anichebe was another who decided against showing support towards Kick It Out at Loftus Road, along with team-mate Sylvain Distin.
The Professional Footballers Association, one of the bodies which funds Kick It Out, insist players are entitled to take a stance over the matter and had earlier defended Rio Ferdinand in the face of possible sanctions from United boss Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson described Ferdinand’s decision not to wear the t-shirt as “embarrassing” and promised to “deal with it”.
PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle said: “We will definitely monitor the (United) situation very closely and make sure Rio Ferdinand’s rights as a human being, never mind as a footballer, are not undermined in this position.
“Everyone has a right to free speech – just like you can’t coerce anyone into shaking hands, you can’t make somebody wear a T-shirt – although I do personally believe that joining in with the campaign is the best way forward.
“And then for all these players to get together and put what it is they want down on paper so we together as a union – all the players, one with another – can make those changes and move forward.”
The former Burnley player believes communication is key and urged Ferguson to follow the examples of Reading boss Brian McDermott and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew in allowing Ferdinand to explain the reasons behind his decision.
It was the declaration of Roberts on Thursday that he would not be wearing a Kick It Out shirt after becoming frustrated by what he perceived as the group’s lack of action over racism that earned a rebuke from Ferguson.
Carlisle added: “There are two sides to this one.
“First of all, Alex Ferguson is continual in his unwavering support for the Kick It Out campaign which is commendable and what we all want to see but you can’t vilify or coerce any individual for making a stand.
“This shouldn’t be seen as an element of control or defiance.”