Rio Ferdinand needs to speak his mind on racism

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John Terry's foul mouth cost him not just the England captaincy but his international career; it's seen off an England manager and is now even threatening to derail an anti-racism campaign.

How so? Well, when Rio Ferdinand and many other Premier League players refused to wear their Kick It Out t-shirts this weekend, it was a protest directed mainly at the FA for its failure to deal with Chelsea's captain as harshly as it punished Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who was found guilty of a similar offence.

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

You have to sympathise with the logic, but their chosen vehicle for articulating it is ill-advised. The FA panel found Terry's version of events "improbable, implausible and contrived,” so why then did they not match Suarez's eight match ban? That Terry only said what he said once, whereas Suarez repeated his insults, is a pretty weak defence, whether they're following sentencing guidelines or not.

ueens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand (right) chooses not to wear an anti-racism t-shirt during pre-match training. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

How on earth can spewing a racist insult get less serious the fewer times you say it? And then, if you consider Joey Barton's 12 match ban for violent conduct, you begin to understand the protesting players' anger at the FA's leadership on anti-racism?

Everton's Sylvain Distin (left) snubs the anti-racism t-shirt during pre-match training Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Having said all that, compared with the ostriches at UEFA and FIFA, the FA is enlightened. And you do have to give it credit for pursuing and punishing Terry, even though he had been cleared in a court of law. In addition, they didn't need any prodding to jump to Danny Rose's defence, when he was subjected to that appalling and unacceptable vitriol in Serbia last week.

Everton's Steven Pienaar (left) and Victor Anichebe (right) decide not to wear anti-rascism t-shirts during pre-match training. Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

I applaud Ferdinand's stance and his willingness to stick his neck out for something he feels passionately about, it's just I wish he would be more transparent about it. Surely this is important enough not to hide behind cryptic tweets and ambiguous on the pitch t-shirt protests? If you have something to say Rio, shout it out. If you feel Terry got off lightly say so. If your brother was wronged then say that too. If you believe the Kick It Out campaign is lacking, then tell everyone why and more importantly say what you think would help it. If it is stuttering, then kick start it again.

Queens Park Rangers' Nedum Onuoha (left) decides not to wear an anti-racism t-shirt during pre-match training. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

This could be a pivotal moment for football and its fight against racism. Ferdinand is a respected elder statesman, he enjoys a large, captive twitter audience and is an eloquent communicator. Only though, when he does it face-to-face, certainly not when he's hiding behind 140 characters carved from his Blackberry keypad.

If his aim has been to get people talking, it's worked. But now they are talking it's time for Ferdinand to join the conversation he started.

Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea's John Terry in 2011. Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

If he doesn't owe it to football, he certainly owes it to the Kick It Out campaign which he weakened this weekend. And he owes it to the black players, mainly amateurs, who are still putting up with racist abuse, albeit we are led to believe, on a decreasing basis. Kids idolise Ferdinand and most fans, club loyalties aside, respect him. So Rio, you've grabbed everyone's attention, now it's time to explain exactly what's really bugging you and how we can all help.