Adrian Forbes calls on Uefa to act as Kick It Out launches campaigns
Former Norwich City winger Adrian Forbes believes the annual week of action staged by Kick It Out, football's anti-discrimination organisation, will serve as a timely reminder of the need to keep up the pressure to eliminate racism from the game.
The ex-Canary also joined calls for Uefa and Fifa bosses to take a tough stance in the wake of Tuesday's events in Serbia, where England Under-21 players were subjected to racist and physical abuse at the end of their European Championship play-off second leg, which they won 1-0.
On Wednesday Kick It Out launched the biggest ever fans' survey on tackling racism and discrimination in football, and their annual 'One Game, One Community' programme which started on Thursday.
The survey comes after a troubled year for English football, which saw Luis Suarez and John Terry both banned for racist abuse and a number of players and former players targeted by racists via social media.
The anti-racist message will be promoted at Saturday's Premier League game against Arsenal at Carrow Road, where the players will warm up wearing Kick It Out T-shirts and the campaign flag will be carried on to the pitch.
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Forbes, 33, left, who admits to being subjected to racial abuse during a career that included 121 games for Norwich, said: 'The Kick It Out campaigns raises awareness – it certainly did for me as a player when we wore the T-shirts – but these organisations can only do so much.
'Until all the governing bodies are singing from the same hymn sheet, the problem will continue.
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'It seems nearly every week, for the last two or three months, through some incident or individual, this issue has raised its ugly head.
'It's frustrating but I still don't understand why people regard someone's skin colour an easy target.
'If someone is playing badly, fans will criticise their poor performance but why refer to the colour of their skin?
'Twitter and other forms of social media have made it easier to attack black or Asian players.'
On the international stage, the Football Association and sports minister Hugh Robertson have complained to Uefa over Tuesday's 'disgraceful scenes' in Krusevac, where Serbian supporters, players and other officials appeared to get involved, and England defender Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle for reacting angrily to apparent racial abuse.
The Serbian FA issued a statement denying 'that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match' and claimed it was not a factor in fighting on the pitch after the final whistle.
But Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle called for Serbia to receive a 'significant' international ban, and Forbes concurred.
He said: 'Financial penalties, which we've seen in the past, are not really the answer. If you just fine clubs or organisations or individuals, it doesn't really have any lasting effect.
'If they were told they would not be allowed to compete in a certain competition it might be different.
'I don't condone Danny Rose's behaviour but you can see why he did it after suffering 'monkey chants'. I would probably have reacted in the same way.
'Until you get someone at the top in these governing bodies who has experienced it, knows the trauma and the suffering that players go through, it won't change.'
Launching their survey of fans and players, Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley said: 'At a time when discrimination is high up the football agenda, it is easy for fans and players to forget the great strides made over the last 20 years in helping to eradicate it.
'But there is still a long way to go. We are launching this important dialogue with football fans to help set out how we move forward to achieve a zero tolerance approach to discrimination in all its forms, at all levels of the game.
'The One Game, One Community weeks of action provide a focal point for everyone connected to football, from supporters to players, to stand up against discrimination in all its forms.'