Cameron responds to racism in football

Suarez affair prompts Downing Street summit on football racism

Suarez affair prompts Downing Street summit on football racism

By Graham Fahy

David Cameron met representatives from the football authorities, former players and campaign groups at Downing Street today to discuss the issue of discrimination in football amid continued fallout from the row between footballers Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.

With the England football camp still in turmoil following the FA's decision to strip captain John Terry of his armband over allegations of racial abuse, Downing Street stepped in to send a clear message that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated in the national game.

"As our national game, football has exceptional reach into every community. So much about football reflects what makes us great as a nation, and we all want to keep it that way," David Cameron said after the meeting.

"Football has done a huge amount in recent decades to eradicate the types of racist attitudes and behaviour that sadly often blighted the game.

"We must address problems which could, if left unchecked, threaten to undo much of the hard work that has been done."

He insisted football be inclusive so the 'beautiful game' is open to players, managers, coaches and supporters of all backgrounds.

The football authorities agreed to work together on a way forward and report back to government before the start of the next season, Downing Street said.

Jeremy Hunt, sports secretary, said he hoped to see more black and ethnic minority coaches and managers working in the game.

Nic Coward, Premier League general secretary said "Arrests in football are at their lowest since records began, and we are determined to use all means to educate, prevent and deter, and to use all sanctions available to us."

The government confirmed it will provide £3 million of funding towards the FA's new national coaching centre at St George’s Park.

The centre will help to identify and train the next generation of coaches, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that more coaches from black and minority ethnic backgrounds can take advantage of the facilities and progress to the professional game.