Rio Ferdinand has moved to defend comments made in his latest autobiography that Kick It Out could have done more to support his family during the race trial involving his brother Anton and Chelsea captain John Terry.
The QPR defender refused to wear a T-shirt supporting the annual anti-racism campaign in October 2012 prior to a game for Manchester United, on the grounds that the group had refused to attend court alongside his family dressed in the same attire.
Herman Ouseley, chairman of the anti-racism body, criticized Ferdinand on Wednesday for treating them as a ‘punchbag’, but on The Clare Balding Show, the 35-year-old moved to clarify that section of #2sides, which was released at a Mayfair launch on Thursday night.
“I wasn’t using them as a punchbag at all,” said Ferdinand. “They were part of a bigger issue; Kick It Out want us to wear the T-shirts once a year, and I was saying that if you can’t go into a racism case in court and wear the T-shirt on a player’s behalf, why should I wear it on your behalf?
“My mum said to them, ‘if you’re going to come to court, don’t come invisible. Come so that people know why you’re here, and what you’re doing here. If a guy comes in a suit and works on behalf of Kick It Out, who’s going to know? You may as well not be there.”
Ferdinand maintained that the world of football didn’t provide his family with sufficient support during the Terry case, and stressed that everyone concerned would have emerged from the saga with their reputations intact had the Football Association handled the episode with greater immediacy.
Despite its severity, the former United captain believed the race row got out of hand after the FA had allowed for ‘Chinese whispers’ to circulate, but asserted that racism is still an issue that pervades all of society – not just football.
“There’s been an improvement, definitely – from the days of Viv Anderson getting pelted with fruit,” added Ferdinand. “They received a lot worse than the black players of today, but I think there is a bigger issue than just football. Racism is society’s problem, and I think we have to hit that home with education and family life.
“Football isn’t going to change it; people who are racist can turn up at games and decide to keep their thoughts to themselves due to the new punishments, but then when they get out of the stadium, they will go back to being racist. Football isn’t going to change everything, but it can help, and it can be a starting block.
“I just feel that nowadays the punishments sometimes don’t reflect the seriousness of the incidents. Especially when you see a federation being fined a few thousand pounds and their income over a year could be a few million, even up to £20 million. That doesn’t really add up; that doesn’t hurt that federation.”
Ferdinand was also questioned by Balding over his comments about former United manager David Moyes, whom he describes in his book as bringing ‘the mentality of a smaller club’ to Old Trafford. The defender wrote that Moyes ‘didn’t want to take risks, and it was like he had no confidence in the team, constantly changing opinions and sending mixed messages like, ‘pass the ball’ and ‘don’t pass the ball’.
“Doing that chapter wasn’t to be vindictive towards David Moyes,” Ferdinand told Balding. “As a human being, and as a person, I’ve got the upmost respect for him, and I liked him. But I was talking from a fans perspective as well – I’ve been there 12 years, and as a fan, I’d be sitting there wondering what’s happened there, and that was my way of explanation.
“In the book, I explain how it felt we’d gone from a clear picture of understanding what we needed to do to win, to going to a bit of fuzziness and a grey area in a lot of situations, which from my perspective was one of the fundamental reasons why we went from 11 points clear to where we finished last season.
“When a new manager comes in, you try to help them. I think people get it twisted in thinking that we didn’t want to help the new manager because we didn’t agree with what he was doing…it was nothing like that. I always want to win…I always want more trophies. So, if the manager is telling me to run right, I’m going to run right. But then if he’s telling me to run left, right, forward and back, I’m going to be sitting there not knowing what it is he wants me to do. That’s the kind of situation that I try to explain in the book.”
The full interview with Rio Ferdinand can be seen on The Clare Balding Show this Friday at 10pm on BT Sport 2 and is repeated on Saturday.