PFA want to improve conduct between players

The football pitches of England would be an asterisk-free zone, if the players’ union had their way.

Image: PA

THE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS’ Association has spoken out about player conduct after John Terry was found not guilty of racial abuse.

Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during an English Premier League match between QPR and Chelsea last October, but the very specific details that have emerged from the case have tainted the English game.

A host of expletive-fuelled exchanges between various members of both sides that day were read aloud in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes wants to bring an end to the lack of respect shown by players to their opponents.

He told the Mirror: “Regardless of the outcome, the one thing we all have to accept is that football has not come out of this well.

“This week has highlighted the fact that although we are now part of a multi-million pound industry, passions run very high on the football pitch.

“It’s up to us as a union to get the message across to all players so that there is a very strong lead to ensure that they treat not just referees and match officials with respect but also each other.”

Barnes feels that despite the verdict reached on using racist language, there is equally no place in the game for some of the abusive words used by both parties.

He said: “It is important to remember that this case was not brought by Anton Ferdinand, and John Terry has been found not guilty of using racist language.

“But this case has shown that there is a lot of language that goes on that shouldn’t go on – in whatever context it might be.

“The world has moved on an awful lot but we are still seeing the same sort of sledging and banter that was going on in the ’80s when I was playing.

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“It doesn’t surprise me. Football will always be a game of passion but then you see sledging in cricket as well. That sport is not perfect either.

“I don’t think we are ever going to be able to sanitise the game. Nor would we want to. But at the same time we will have to look at what is considered to be acceptable levels of what is banter and what is considered to be unacceptable personal abuse.”

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