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Derby fallout for blighted English game

12 December 2012, 10:59

England - The fallout from Sunday's Manchester derby has continued to rumble on with City's Gareth Barry charged with verbally abusing a match official and a 15-year-old arrested for sending a racist tweet to a United player during the match.

English football, long seen to have dealt with previous problems with hooliganism and racism, has been hit by a series of recurrences in recent times.

The country had hoped the golden glow of a triumphant London Olympics had set an example for a game still recovering from the effects of the John Terry and Luis Suarez racism rows.

However, Sunday's pulsating match at City's Etihad Stadium, won by the visitors 3-2 after a late goal by United's Dutch striker Robin van Persie, was marred by crowd disturbances towards the end of the game.

Police are trying to identify a supporter who threw a coin at United defender Rio Ferdinand which left him bleeding from a cut about his left eye, while a City supporter ran onto the pitch and had to be restrained by the home side's goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Thirteen people were arrested after the match, with nine being charged.

There was further action on Monday, with Greater Manchester Police dealing with the latest in a long line of Twitter-related problems in English soccer.

"Police investigating a racist tweet sent during Sunday's Manchester derby have made an arrest," a GMP statement said on Tuesday.

"An investigation was launched following a message directed at a Manchester United player. A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence on the evening of Monday 10 December 2012."

On Tuesday, City midfielder Barry booked himself a date with the Football Association after it announced the England man had been charged for using abusive language towards a match official.


Since English outrage after their Under-21 team were subjected to racist chanting by Serbian supporters in October, the spotlight has been fixed firmly on the English domestic game as it grapples with seemingly weekly incidents of trouble.

Premier League club Norwich City have reported four cases of racist abuse aimed at their Cameroon defender Sebastien Bassong in the past two weeks, coming from both individuals in the crowd and via social media.

Referee Mark Clattenburg was cleared of making a racist remark towards Chelsea's John Obi Mikel during a match with United in October, when a Stamford Bridge steward was injured when Chelsea fans vented their anger at United's winning celebrations.

Half a seat was thrown onto the pitch while at other matches fans have been seen making monkey impressions in the stands.

That same month, Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was punched in the face by a Leeds United fan during a second-tier match.

All this has occurred as the Terry racism saga came to a conclusion, with the former England captain being banned by the FA for four matches for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, Rio's brother, a year ago. The Chelsea defender was cleared in a criminal court.


Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of anti-racism group Kick It Out, has accused Chelsea and Liverpool - who last season had striker Suarez banned for eight matches for racially abusing United's Patrice Evra - as well as the Football Association and the Premier League of a failure of "morality" and "leadership".

He described the last year as "12 months wasted in hypocrisy" by the authorities.

"There is very little morality in football among the top clubs," he told the Guardian newspaper.

"Leadership is so important; you have to send a powerful message that racism is completely unacceptable," he said. "But there is a moral vacuum. The big clubs look after their players as assets. There was no bold attitude from them, to say that they would not put up with it."

Ouseley went on to say that despite Terry being found guilty and the FA commission expressing doubt on the evidence of teammate Ashley Cole, he felt neither the club, the FA nor the Premier League had made any strong statement of disapproval.

"The condemnations have been mealy mouthed," Ouseley said.

Following the events in Manchester, authorities have been vocal in their condemnation with the Professional Footballers' Association boss Gordon Taylor suggesting netting should be erected in some parts of stadiums to protect players from objects being hurled from the crowd.

Many fans have argued that such an idea would be a retrograde step and regard the netting as an alien concept used in soccer troublespots around the world. However, countries with hooligan problems such as Italy have not been on the front pages of the newspapers as often as England in recent months.

The FA's chairman David Bernstein has said fans who "hijack" matches with bad behaviour should be banned for life.

- Reuters


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