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  1. ITV Report

Rio snubs anti racism campaign

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, left, is seen without an anti-racism shirt alongside teammate Wayne Rooney as the team warms up Photo: John Super/PA

The players' union have defended Rio Ferdinand's right to make a personal protest against the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign after Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson threatened to take action against the player.

Ferdinand, whose brother Anton was the subject of racist abuse from Chelsea captain John Terry last year, did not wear a campaign t-shirt in the warm-up to United's Barclays Premier League match against Stoke yesterday despite Ferguson saying on Friday that all his players would.

Ferguson described the incident as "embarrassing" and promised to "deal with it".

It is difficult to see what financial sanction could be imposed on Ferdinand in such circumstances, which instead points to a private dressing down for undermining Ferguson's authority.

However, Professional Footballers Association chairman Clarke Carlisle told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We will definitely monitor the situation very closely and make sure Rio Ferdinand's rights as a human being, never mind as a footballer, are not undermined in this position.

"Everyone has a right to free speech - just like you can't coerce anyone into shaking hands, you can't make somebody wear a T-shirt - although I do personally believe that joining in with the campaign is the best way forward.

"And then for all these players to get together and put what it is they want down on paper so we together as a union - all the players, one with another - can make those changes and move forward."