FOREIGN footballers playing in England could be asked to take cultural awareness lessons in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the racism controversy that enveloped Liverpool’s Luis Suarez last season.
The proposal is part of a response from football authorities to the government’s demands for a crackdown on episodes of discrimination, following a number of high-profile cases during the last 18 months.
Uruguay striker Suarez was banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Suarez argued in vain that the term “negrito” was not racist in Spanish.
“Up until now we have had cultural awareness courses for our apprentices and the plan now is to extend these to senior players and coaches, including those coming from overseas,” said Gordon Taylor, chief executive of players’ union the PFA. “We want to make sure there is no misunderstanding with regards to the rules and regulations on discrimination.”
Clubs could also be forced to insert into contracts clauses explicitly banning discriminatory behaviour, under the plans drawn up the Football Association, Premier League, Football League and the PFA.
Chelsea received criticism for retaining John Terry as captain after an independent FA commission handed him a four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
It came as the chairman of leading football anti-discriminatory campaigners Kick It Out, Lord Ouseley, accused English football chiefs of allowing a “moral vacuum” to develop.
Ouseley, 67, said he was considering stepping down after 15 years in the post having grown frustrated at a perceived failure of authorities to come down hard enough on behaviour on the pitch and in the stands.
“We need to see some dynamic leadership,” he said. “Vile chanting and abusive behaviour is out there and we are in very dangerous times with the increase of right-wing activity and intolerance.”