Hughes won't sanction protesters
Mark Hughes insists he won't sanction Anton Ferdinand and other QPR players who did not wear t-shirts in support of the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Everton.
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A day earlier, Rio Ferdinand's decision to join the protest brought strong criticism from Sir Alex Ferguson, who promised the player would be "dealt with" after the Manchester United manager had publicly criticised Jason Roberts' stated intention to snub the t-shirt and promised all of his players would wear them.
A number of other players, apparently unhappy with what they consider a lack of progress by the organisation, opted out of the campaign during the warm-ups of their respective matches over the weekend.
Hoops manager Hughes had spoken to his players collectively earlier in the week and expected everyone to take part but won't be punishing those who didn't.
"It is a personal thing," he said. "My personal belief is that any campaign that focusing on taking racism out of sport and football is a good thing and we should try and support it."
However, Hughes also expects the stance taken by the players to have an impact.
"I think the point has been made that they want more to be done and I'm sure because of the strength of feeling people involved with these organisations will look at themselves and question themselves," he added.
Everton manager David Moyes said he made it clear to his players he would support them either way.
"I did speak to the players and gave them the opportunity and it was up to them to decide what they wanted to do and how they felt," he said.
"I told them how I felt and I understand their point of views and I'm totally supportive of my players if that is what they choose to do..."
"I don't think they are disappointed in the Kick It Out campaign, I think they are more disappointed in other authorities maybe in the way they have taken action."
Anton Ferdinand was the victim of racial abuse from Chelsea skipper John Terry in a league match last October, with Terry accepting a four-match suspension and £220,000 fine relating to the incident earlier this week.
Ferdinand was joined in not wearing the t-shirt on Sunday by Rangers team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Junior Hoilett while Everton's Nigeria international Victor Anichebe was another who decided against showing support towards Kick It Out at Loftus Road, along with team-mate Sylvain Distin.
PFA chairman and Kick It Out ambassador Clarke Carlisle hopes the decision of these players will prompt discussions rather than punishments.
Clarke said: "Sir Alex Ferguson is trying to reaffirm his unwavering support of the Kick It Out campaign and that's fantastic.
"But this should not be seen as player versus club or dissension from a player against their employer.
"This is about a group of players and some wider issues that transcend that relationship.
"We would not want to see Rio Ferdinand punished. As I said of the handshake saga, you cannot coerce any man against his will and to do so would be the complete opposite of what the campaign is for.
"(Reading manager) Brian McDermott and (Newcastle manager) Alan Pardew said they had good conversations with their players to understand why (they did not wear the t-shirt) and they respect them in that.
"Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out in his own interview he did not know why Jason Roberts or any other player would not want to wear the t-shirt, so I hope that conversation takes place in the next couple of days."
Carlisle said he had spoken to a number of the players who chose not to wear the t-shirt, and had listened to their concerns.
"This is a group of players who are trying to make a statement," he said. "This is not a problem with Kick It Out per se, though they would like Kick It Out to be more vocal and authoritative.
"But the main point they would like to make is about the way governing bodies have approached issues over the past 12-18 months, the way they have investigated them and the expediency of those investigations, and how weak the sanctions were at the end of them.
"This is not just the FA, it's UEFA and FIFA and it ties in with other issues the players want their union to address. This was their opportunity to make that stand."