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PFA announces anti-racism initiative

The Professional Footballers' Association has announced proposals for a new initiative to tackle the continuing problem of racism in the game.

The PFA proposes tougher penalties for racist abuse - which would include making it a potentially sackable offence - while offenders would undergo awareness programmes.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor detailed the six-point plan in a week that has seen reports of a potential breakaway black players' union amid escalating claims that the football authorities are not doing enough to tackle racism.

His proposals, revealed to the Press Association, include speeding up the process for dealing with reported racist abuse, considering tougher penalties for such offences and for racial abuse to be considered gross misconduct - and thus a potentially sackable offence - in player and coach contracts.

The plan would also ensure that all areas of potential discrimination, including gender, sexual orientation, disability and Islamophobia, were carefully monitored.

But changes such as disciplinary sanctions, courses and changes to contracts would need to be agreed by the FA and the leagues before they could be implemented - a potentially lengthy process.

Jason Roberts, who is on the PFA's management committee, had voiced frustration that his recommendations on dealing with racism have not been listened to enough.

Roberts told the Daily Mail the PFA's equality department "should have stronger leadership and more than just one or two staff. It doesn't have the resources to tackle the job".

He said recommendations "have been tabled for a year now, across several meetings, without any progress being made".

The Reading striker, along with Anton and Rio Ferdinand, was among players who decided not to wear Kick It Out campaign T-shirts at the weekend because they did not believe strong enough steps were being taken by the authorities.

Taylor repeated his call for unity, saying he felt the formation of a breakaway union would be a mistake.

"If they want their own particular select group who they feel they can influence everybody more than the whole PFA as a union together, I would say they are seriously mistaken," he said.

"If we are not careful, this will set us back years. It would not only set back the game, it would set back the anti-racist initiative."

Former West Brom and Arsenal defender Brendon Batson, an ex-PFA administrator, echoed Taylor's words, telling BBC Radio Five Live: "I'd be really disappointed if there was a split, and I don't think there would be any benefit."

On Tuesday, the FA chairman David Bernstein said English football's governing body would review sanctions for racist abuse following the John Terry case.

But he claimed the Chelsea captain's four-match ban for abusing Anton Ferdinand - widely criticised as too lenient - was "about right".

Information from the Press Association was used in this report