Ferdinand demands FIFA take action over homophobia

An English footballer has demanded that the game’s authorities take homophobic chanting and abuse seriously.

Rio Ferdinand spoke out after England’s Emile Heskey was targeted with racist abuse by Croatian fans at an international match last month.

England won 4-1 in Zagreb but the Croatian FA were only fined £15,000 by football’s governing body FIFA.

“The football authorities need to look at themselves,” said Mr Ferdinand.

“Sepp Blatter likes to speak up about things that are good for FIFA’s image but I would love to see them stand up and dish out the right punishments for these incidents.

“They make a lot of comments about what they are going to do but they never back up the words with actions.

“Croatia were fined a few thousand quid. What good is that going to do?

“That is not going to stop people shouting racist or homophobic abuse.

“If things like this keep happening you have to take points off them.

“Then the punters will realise the team is going to be punished.

“The cameras should be able to pick up the people who are doing that kind of stuff and eject them. We are talking about a football match. There are young kids present who do not want to hear someone slagging the players off.”

Mr Blatter is head of FIFA, the international governing body of football and organises major international tournaments such as the World Cup.

Earlier this year he said:

“There are gay footballers, but they don’t declare it because they think it will not be accepted in these macho organisations.

“But football is open for everybody.

“And look at women’s football: homosexuality is more popular there.”

Last wek homophobic and racial abuse was directed towards Portsmouth football captain Sol Campbell during a Premiership game against Tottenham Hotspurs on Sunday.

Tottenham fans reportedly dislike Mr Campbell due to his transfer from Tottenham to rival team Arsenal in 2001.

Hampshire Constabulary said that the scale of the abuse meant that arrests could not be made, but a spokeswoman said today that the incident will be fully investigated.

“Clubs employ us to keep situations like this to a minimum and with the help of stewards on their staff we can normally warn people they are committing a public order offence,” she continued.

“That often solves the problem but on this occasion it was just too much.

“I cannot say whether the chanting was obscene, homophobic or racist, not having been there, but the FA officer we contacted said he understood from his background experience what it was.”

The Football Association (FA) said it would “take action where necessary.”

Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth manager, told BBC News:

“Nobody likes being called filthy names and hearing other filthy abuse. It’s not right. What has that got to do with coming to a game?”