Euro stars should protest racism: PFA chief

AFP, Sunday 10 Jun 2012

Euro 2012 stars should be allowed to walk off the pitch if they are racially abused by fans, Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, said on Sunday

Clarke Carlisle
Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (Photo: Reuters)

The first few days of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine have been marred by incidents of racism as Dutch players were taunted by local fans during an open training session.

There were also reports claiming Czech Republic defender Theodore Gebre Selassie was singled out for abuse by Russian supporters during Friday's Group A match.

Carlisle, who plays for English Championship club Burnley, admits he would want to walk off the pitch if he received the kind of racist abuse that has become associated with fixtures in eastern Europe.

UEFA, European football's governing body, has warned that any players who walk off the pitch during Euro 2012 in protest at racial abuse will be handed a yellow card.

But Carlisle, 32, went to a domestic club match in Poland before the Euros and saw enough evidence of racism and hooliganism to back his belief that players should be able to act if they are targeted by racist thugs.

"The reality and what we are being told and is reported is vastly different," he told Andrew Marr's BBC television programme on Sunday.

"As a player, if you see that the officials aren't handling the situation then you are well within your rights to walk off the pitch in my opinion.

"Nobody should be abused in their work place, especially not racially. We don't want any form of discrimination at all in football.

"This is going to be a real test of UEFA to see if they have empowered their officials to take control of these situations.

"If you see that the referee is taking control of it.

"If he has stopped the game and it is one or two individuals and they are being sorted out, or if it is a group and he is taking the players off the pitch to sort it out, then you'd be happy because you know it is being dealt with."

Asked what he would do as a player if racial abuse was not being dealt with by a referee, Carlisle added: "If it happened to me I would want to walk off the pitch because I don't think anybody should be abused in their workplace and I would hope that my teammates would support me."

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