England complains over racist taunts

17th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

17 November 2004, LONDON- The English Football Association has complained to UEFA, football's international governing body, about racist chants during a friendly match with Spain's under-21 team.

17 November 2004

LONDON- The English Football Association has complained to UEFA, football's international governing body, about racist chants during a friendly match with Spain's under-21 team.

The chants were directed at two black England players during the England under-21 team's 2-1 defeat by Spain on Tuesday night.

The move came after Spain's controversial coach Luis Aragonés risked further condemnation with a wholly inadequate attempt to repair the damage caused by his alleged description of Thierry Henry as a "black shit".

 

In remarkable scenes at his press conference before the England vs Spain friendly on Wednesday, Aragonés railed against allegations of racism before turning on his inquisitors in the English media.

 

"You are kids compared to me. You don't know anything whereas I am nearly 70," he said.

 

"I know who are the racists. I remember the colonies. I have a lot of black friends and I have fed black people at my table, in my house. They have explained to me that the English were after them in the colonies.

 

"I repeat: I have a lot of black friends and I am a citizen of the world. In my job I have been to many countries, I always respect different cultures and I have many friends from different places. I cannot understand the reaction to what I said."

 

Meanwhile, motivated in part by Aragones' earlier racist comment, England's national football team wore jerseys bearing an anti-racism message while practicing in Madrid for the match.

The message was a response to comments by Aragones, who, in an apparent effort to prod his player Jose Antonio Reyes to perform, compared him with his Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry, whom he referred to with a vulgar racial epithet.

"This campaign is designed to call attention to incidents such as the one by Aragones and to raise awareness against racism in football" - that is to say, soccer - Leon Mann, spokesman for the anti-racism pressure group Kick It Out, told EFE news agency.

The group, whose t-shirts bear the slogan "Let's Kick Racism Out of Football," has the backing of England's Professional Footballers Association.

England and Spain are set to play a friendly on Wednesday in "the Bernabeu," as Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium is known.

The English side wore the Kick It Out shirts during Tuesday's warm-ups.

The show of support was applauded by Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley.

"We are pleased to see the FA and the England players underlining their support and commitment to kicking racism out of the game," he said in a statement.

"Good progress has been made to tackle racism in the UK but as we keep seeing, the problem on the continent will continue to affect us.

"Therefore, it's essential we do all we can to drive home the lessons learnt here in the expectation that other nations will follow.

"We should expect nothing short of zero tolerance of racism wherever it occurs."

The Spanish coach was later forced to apologise for his comments.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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