Sir Alex Ferguson’s criticism over Jason Roberts’ decision not to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt for Reading’s clash with Liverpool this weekend is a valid viewpoint but has nevertheless split fans and experts in football.
Jason Roberts will not wear the T-shirt this weekend in a pseudo protest over what he claims is a lack of attention towards the Kick It Out campaign, with a number of high-profile racism cases shaming the sport over the last 12 months.
Indeed, Jason Roberts has every right to make a point by not wearing the shirt but his actions have also been rightly criticised by Ferguson, who views solidarity as a stronger message for good than individual protest.
“I think everyone should be united; I do not know what point he is trying to make,” said Ferguson. “If everyone believes in it, you should do it together; we shouldn’t have sheep wandering off. I think it gives the wrong message.”
Jason Roberts does have an important voice in the media and has used this position to alleviate prejudice in football. Yet this new manner of doing so is not within the spirit of why Kick It Out was formed in the first place: to unite against such vulgar discrimination.
The Luis Suarez and John Terry affairs this year have shed serious light onto the ignorance of modern-day footballers and the presence of racism within our game. Indeed, only this week, Danny Rose suffered awful racial abuse away in Serbia, an accusation the Serbian FA has denied so vehemontly that they have released a entitled “Danny Rose is lying to whom?”.
With these incidents still in the public eye, Kick It Out’s work is now more important than ever. This fortnight should be a showpiece for what football can do to rid society of such a vulgar prejudice and Roberts walking away from the project – regardless of his good intensions – can only bring discredit on the campaign.
United, one of the Champions League 2012/13 favourites, will take on Braga next week. The Red Devils are 33/100 to overcome their Portuguese opponents.