owner Tony Fernandes says neither Anton Ferdinand nor the club are to blame for prompting the ongoing police and Football Association investigations into allegations Chelsea and England captain John Terry used racially abusive language towards the Rangers player.
Ferdinand has received death threats since the controversy erupted last month, following QPR’s 1-0 defeat of Chelsea at Loftus Road, and was the subject of derogatory chants from some Chelsea followers in their Champions League match at Genk last week. He has co-operated with the FA’s probe into the Terry incident and last week gave the governing body a full statement.
But Fernandes, in an interview with City A.M. published today and conducted before the death threats against Ferdinand emerged, said the FA made the first move by asking QPR to co-operate, contrary to widespread reports that the club had lodged a complaint against Terry.
“I don’t think Anton has complained. I don’t think QPR have complained,” Fernandes (inset) said. “We have just said ‘If you want to investigate we will give you full support’, which we have. And we have given our player full support.”
The complaint about Terry, who vehemently denies racially abusing Ferdinand, is understood to have been made to the FA by a member of the public. A separate complaint to the Metropolitan Police over the same incident was last month also made by a member of the public.
Malaysian Fernandes, who says he was spat at and kicked on visits to British football grounds in the 1980s, defended Ferdinand over his handling of the controversy.
“I think he has behaved in an incredibly polished and gentlemanlike way,” he said. “He called up to say thank you for the support. I didn’t get into the details of how he felt; I just said ‘We are there 100 per cent for you, focus on the football, stand above it, don’t let people taunt you into silly statements’.”
Fernandes does not believe a guilty verdict would necessarily damn Terry and says the game has made huge strides since his own days as a schoolboy and student in England.
“I don’t necessarily think if John Terry said it, he’s a racist,” he added. “We all say things in the heat of the matter. All I can say, as someone who has been watching football for the best part of 30 years, is that English football should be proud of how racism has, in my opinion, become a smaller issue than it was.”