Players and managers must play their part in ridding football of racism, says PM
Top footballers and club managers must act as role models in the fight against racism, David Cameron said as he raised concerns about recent controversies.
The Prime Minister issued a blunt statement that racism has 'absolutely no place in our society' and would be fought at every level.
An influential Commons committee is set to call prominent figures from the sport to give evidence as part of a wider inquiry after the issue was thrust back into the spotlight over recent weeks.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches for racially abusing an opposing player and the club faced criticism after its players later wore t-shirts in support of him.
Strong words: Cameron attends QPR v Aston Villa earlier in the season
It also recently apologised to Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi after he was allegedly the subject of racist abuse by a supporter at Anfield during an FA Cup tie.
And England captain John Terry has been charged with racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand – an allegation he firmly denies.
Mr Cameron said football had an 'incredible power for good' as he hosted a celebration of the work of the Street League charity at Number 10.
The premier and Downing Street staff have been volunteering for a year with the organisation which uses the sport to help get young people into work.
'Football has this incredible power for good and we need to do everything we can to harness that,' Mr Cameron said.
'One area in particular where I know the football community as a whole has done a lot of good over the years – really setting the example – is tackling racism.
Storm: Tom Adeyemi was enraged by alleged abuse from the stands at Anfield
'Campaigns like Show Racism the Red Card and Let's Kick Racism out of Football have made a real difference. And I know that the Football Association, Premier League and Football League – along with the PFA and many others – continue to work hard on this.
'But of course many of us will have been concerned by recent events. My message is clear: we will not tolerate racism in Britain. It has absolutely no place in our society and where it exists, we will kick it out.'
In a message to leading professionals, he said: 'Our football governing bodies, clubs and footballers themselves have a vital role to play as role models in this respect.
'It's vital too that more coaches and managers from black and minority ethnic groups make it to the top of the game and I know the Premier League among others are working hard to try and make this happen.'
Organisations like Street League were also helping combat racism at grass roots level, he said, by 'instilling the values we want to see in our communities and particularly in our young people'.