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  1. ITV Report

Racism row engulfs Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand during the warm up with Rooney and Anderson. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Manchester United's high profile defender Rio Ferdinand stoked further controversy when he defied his manager to boycott wearing a Kick it Out anti-racism campaign t-shirt.

As he warmed up for the match against Stoke at Old Trafford, he was the only United player not wearing the shirt.

His refusal is seen as a similar move to Reading's Jason Roberts in protest against an apparent lack of action by the Football Association.

Reading's Jason Roberts without his One Game One Community T-Shirt during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Although Ferdinand has not said why he refused to wear the shirt. He has not posted anything to his usually busy Twitter account all day.

The move came in the wake of months of coverage about the resurgence of racism in football, from ugly scenes at Euro 2012, to rifts in the England camp after John Terry was found[ guilty by the FA of abusing Rio's brother Anton.

Just this week England's U21 players were alleged to have been racially abused by monkey chanting in Serbia.

Ferdinand's refusal to wear the anti-racism shirt left the United boss "embarrassed" by Ferdinand's stance, Sir Alex added that he felt "let down" and that Ferdinand would be, "dealt with".

When asked for his thoughts about the protest, Sir Alex said: "Well I am disappointed because I said he was against the shirt protest] at a press conference yesterday - and it is embarrassing for me - but he will be dealt with. Don't worry about that."

Just a day earlier, when asked what he thought of the Jason Richards protest, Ferguson told the press: "All the players are wearing it [the Kick It Out T-shirts]. I have only heard that Jason Roberts is different."I don't know what point he [Roberts] is trying to make.

But Reading boss Brian McDermott gave Roberts his backing.

He said: "I support him 100 per cent.

"He had his reasons. Jason had his view and it was a very strong view. We spoke on Friday and I totally respect his view."

Before today's football, Roberts told the BBC's Football Focus programme he believed the four-match ban and £220,000 fine given to John Terry were too lenient.

He said: "I think people feel let down by Kick Racism Out of Football as it used to be called. People don't think they have been strong enough.

"Unless they are independent, unless they don't have to explain their actions to anyone, they will be held accountable on that basis.

"The players are very frustrated.

"I find it very hard to wear a t-shirt and hold a banner after what's happened last year.

Certainly from the FA's point of view, I'm not happy that they have given the four match ban.

If you look in the workplace, if you use language like this in your job you would expect harsh punishment."

– Footballer Jason Roberts

He added: "The four match ban, for me, is not a heavy enough sanction for what happened. I guess we will wait and see what Chelsea have to do with it.

"Certainly from the FA's point of view, I'm not happy that they have given the four match ban.

"If you look in the workplace, if you use language like this in your job you would expect harsh punishment."