Racism row

Taylor warns against breakaway union

October 25, 2012
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Gordon Taylor has warned that a breakaway union for black footballers would be "divisive" and hinder the fight for equality.

PFA
PA PhotosTaylor was alarmed by the injury to Rio Ferdinand

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Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is reportedly involved in talks to launch a new self-funded union open to players at all levels and of all ethnic backgrounds after becoming disillusioned with the lack of progress to stop racism.

Ferdinand's action follows the decision of a number of Premier League footballers, including Ferdinand and his brother Anton, to boycott Kick It Out t-shirt campaign last weekend in a protest against their perceived failure to take a hard-line stance.

But PFA chief-executive Taylor has told ESPN that the only way to make progress in the fight against racism is by working together as one and not splintering into separate groups.

"We first were told there would be a breakaway, then it would be a separate group within the PFA, but the reality is that we are fighting on behalf of black players and to have a splinter group would be divisive," Taylor said.

"Why not have a group representing homosexuals, or a group representing foreign players? It would only serve to weaken the union.

"Sir Alex Ferguson made the point that the union is the strength of all its members rather than individuals, that is the best way to fight for a cause.

"The PFA have a poster campaign 'Football Unites, Racism Divides'. What we don't want is that we are divided, and weakened as a consequence, no one wants that. I feel that has been recognised, that the best way to campaign for equality is to do that together.

"We are fighting an on-going process, not just a reaction to events in the past week or so. We have black players on the PFA Management Committee, there are no secrets, and there is representation already. The black players are already part of the process and are not being excluded in any way.

"What has to be appreciated is that we cannot snap our fingers and it will happen, it can only be achieved with the cooperation of all the football authorities, and we are in a far stronger position as a united group, all players together have a stronger voice.

"Our goal is to speed up the process and to ensure greater transparency. We are planning to have a database of coaches, both black and white, fully qualified and we want the clubs to consult with us about appointments and who is on the database, in order to improve the proportion of black coaches and managers.

"We are involved in a wide variety of causes, but we do have an equality department and the PFA have been wrongly portrayed in all the hysteria. The truth is that we do want as many black players to be involved in the game, and to be properly represented, that was our position a few weeks ago, and it remains our position.

"Let's be honest with ourselves, we have pushed for the Rooney Rule, to make it compulsory for clubs to interview at least one black candidate for coaching and management vacancies, but nothing will happen without the cooperation of all the interested parties within the game.

"The clubs don't like to be told what to do, we have to convince them with compelling arguments, and a breakaway won't help the cause, it will hinder it."