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Dec 11, 2012

Lord Ouseley blasts Premier League clubs

Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley has accused the Premier League's biggest clubs of having "very little morality" in the battle to eradicate racism from football.

Lord Ouseley's comments come following the latest arrest made over an alleged incident of racism at the Manchester derby on Sunday. That arrest follows a year of controversy dominated by bans issued to former England skipper John Terry and Liverpool's Luis Suarez over racist comments made on the pitch.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ouseley reflected on how these incidents were handled during a year which saw the Premier League and Football Association mired in debate.

"There is very little morality in football among the top clubs," Ouseley told the Guardian.

"Leadership is so important; you have to send a powerful message that racism is completely unacceptable. But there is a moral vacuum. The big clubs look after their players as assets. There was no bold attitude from them, to say that they would not put up with it.

"The condemnations have been mealy mouthed. The FA did a good job with how they handled the independent commissions themselves - they showed that firm action is now taken when racist abuse is reported to them.

"We want all players and fans to feel confident about reporting abuse. But the FA did not say anything about the lies and distortions which came out in John Terry's and Ashley Cole's evidence.

"Instead the players are protected. The Premier League could have set the tone; they and the FA do a good job in community work. But on this, I have not heard anything from the Premier League."

Terry was found guilty by an FA commission of having racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in October 2011. Suarez, meanwhile, received an eight-match ban for similarly abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

The players' respective managers Andre Villas-Boas and Kenny Dalglish stated support for their charges publicly, while England manager Roy Hodgson also weighed into the debate by praising the character of Terry and controversially omitting Anton's brother Rio Ferdinand from his squad.

Kick It Out, Ouseley insists, followed approproate protocol by not commenting until after trials were complete. Ouseley believes the public comments made to be another example of clubs and the FA protecting star players.

"We were observing the process," Ouseley said, "but the managers were speaking out and sticking up for Luis Suarez and John Terry.

"The FA should have asserted themselves, said they would not put up with people disrespecting the process, but the FA were very slack and weak. The whole 12 months was wasted in hypocrisy. Even now the FA has not acknowledged the hurt and pain caused to Anton Ferdinand and his family after the length of time it took.

"When Rio Ferdinand was told he was not good enough, whereas John Terry went to the Euros, that hurt the black players the most. They could see nobody speaking up for them, and the establishment seemed to be looking after its favourites."