THE chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association Clarke Carlisle has given his full backing to Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand over his refusal to wear a T-shirt in support of the Kick It Out campaign.
Ferdinand’s decision to do so before Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Stoke City was described as “embarrassing” by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who also threatened to discipline the defender, but Carlisle believes it should ultimately be his choice.
“We will make sure Rio Ferdinand’s rights as a human being, never mind as a footballer, aren’t undermined in this,” said Carlisle, a York City defender.
“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.
“I would sincerely hope that Ferguson now speaks with Rio, asks him why he wanted to make that stand and hopefully supports the position he is in and it isn’t seen as a player-against-manager situation.