Ferguson: Rio let us down
Rio Ferdinand's refusal to wear a 'Kick It Out' T-shirt before Manchester United's win over Stoke is set to spark internal disciplinary action.
Sir Alex Ferguson said on Friday that his players would wear the shirts before Saturday's Premier League game and condemned Jason Roberts, who also refused to wear a 'Kick It Out' T-shirt prior to Reading's defeat at Liverpool.
Speaking to United's in-house TV channel MUTV, Ferguson said: "I am disappointed. I said (on Friday) that the players would be wearing it in support of the PFA and that every player should adhere to it.
"And he goes and lets us down. We will deal with it, don't worry."
Roberts and Ferdinand were protesting at what they perceive to be a lack of action by the 'Kick It Out' organisation in combating racism in football.
After high-profile incidents involving Reds striker Luis Suarez - banned for eight matches - and Chelsea's John Terry - suspended for four games - in the last year, Roberts was particularly unhappy with the latter punishment.
"The four-match ban was, for me, not a heavy enough sanction for what happened," Roberts said in the week.
"I'm totally committed to kicking racism out of football but when there's a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it.
"I think people feel let down by what used to be called 'Let's Kick Racism Out of Football'.
"People don't feel like they have been strong enough."
While Ferguson condemned Ferdinand, Reading boss Brian McDermott stood firmly behind Roberts.
He told Sky Sports News: "Jason has had a very strong view of it and I respect Jason's view.
"It was important to him what he did today. I 100 per cent back him."
At Old Trafford and prior to United's game with Stoke, which they won 4-2, all of Ferdinand's outfield team-mates wore the black 'one game, one community' T-shirts as agreed but the former West Ham man sported a bright red United tracksuit top.
Ferdinand eventually took his training top off to reveal he was wearing a United training shirt, with the DHL sponsors logo.
It represents an obvious snub to the anti-racism message, and directly contradicted Ferguson's stance on the matter yesterday when the United boss was asked what he thought of Roberts' protest.
"Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick it Out warm-up tops," Ferguson had said.
"I don't know what point he (Roberts) is trying to make.
"I don't know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone.
"But he really should be supporting all the rest of the players who are doing it."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis backed the right of players to decide whether or not they wanted to wear the Kick It Out shirts.
"They are given the opportunity and chance to decide," he said.
"Let me say this about this country. People have the right to say yes or no. In a lot of countries you haven't the right.
"You can do what you want here. You have the chance to stand up and say you don't want to do it.
"This is a great country. It is multi-cultural. It is the best country in the world. They might have a gripe. Maybe rightly so, especially when you see incidents like the one in Serbia.
"I have never - and no club I have managed - have ever worried about anything like that. Black, white, Catholic, Protestant, you treat people as human beings. There is good and bad in religion and colour. You have to be straight down the middle and treat everyone the same."
On the subject of funding for Kick It Out, he added: "I don't know enough about it. The black players at our football club get treated exactly the same as the white lads. There is no difference. That is the way it should be."