No evidence Rio Ferdinand was racially abused by England fans during World Cup qualifier in San Marino, say Football Association

FA finds no evidence that England fans racially abused Ferdinand brothers during San Marino qualifier

fixture in Moldova.

A football banning order means an individual must surrender their passport, excluding them from all travel abroad around England international fixtures.

'We've been asked to supply our
submission to Fifa by Tuesday, which we will do,' said FA Managing
Director of Club England Adrian Bevington.

'We have gone through all of the video evidence that our security team recorded on the evening of the game.

'I do want to make clear that while
the journalists who have reported this have done so in good faith, they
clearly have heard chanting of a particular nature, and we're not
disputing that, but we haven't been able to identify any of that from
the recorded evidence that we've gone through.'

Fare, who did not have their own
observers at the match, have collated the evidence on the basis of
'hearsay', according to the Football Supporters Federation.

Having been selected for an England squad for the first time since June 2011 for the Brazil 2014 qualifying double-header with San Marino and Montenegro, Ferdinand withdrew after telling Roy Hodgson he had to follow a pre-planned programme of treatment on his back trouble.

He then attracted ridicule by flying to Qatar to appear as a pundit for the match on the Al-Jazeera television channel.

It was widely reported the morning after the game that England fans had sung derogatory songs about Rio and his brother Anton, with the FA promising to investigate the claims.

Ferdinand said on Twitter at the time: 'You expect and accept banter from
fans on the terraces as it's part of what makes the game great, but
racism is not banter and from your own fans. WOW.

'Always a small minority who ruin it for others.'

He added: 'Let's not jump to
conclusions and assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll
see after the investigation.'

The FA issued a statement confirming they had launched an investigation and would review video footage taken by their officials.

They also promised to ban any England fan found guilty of racist abuse and vowed to 'do all we can to eradicate racism from football'.

And the FA also issued a strong call for an end to the 'No Surrender' chants.

The statement read: 'We will not accept any racist chanting and we also call on those attending England matches at home and abroad to stop the “No Surrender” chanting during the singing of the national anthem, both before and during games.'

The prospect of Fifa sanctions was then raised after Fare flagged up to world football's
governing body the vile songs which suggested the pair be burned on a bonfire.

The chant in San Marino was: 'Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put Rio on the top, put Anton in the middle, then burn the f****** lot.'

Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive Kevin Miles, who was at the game, said: ‘Leaping to formal complaint on the basis of second-hand and hearsay information without engaging with supporters’ organisations who were present or the FA is not an approach designed to create the best possible outcome.

‘The Football Supporters’ Federation stand firmly against any manifestations of racism within football. On this occasion, I personally have not heard any of the anti-Rio Ferdinand sentiment being expressed in a way that could be construed as racist.

‘Anger about Rio Ferdinand’s absence from the squad and presence in Dubai in an Al Jazeera studio was strongly felt and clearly expressed. But I heard no racist content. If there were songs sung with racist undertones, then that is a matter for concern. But even then the response needs to be measured, proportionate and constructive.’

Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley today called at the time on the FA to take a stance on the 'vile' and 'abusive' chants by England fans aimed at the Ferdinands.

It has been suggested the song had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry.

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Anton Ferdinand (left)

Who are FARE

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) is an international network of groups active in over 40 countries.

Their aim is to help support and coordinate efforts across borders and strengthen activity at national level.

According
to their mission statement: ‘We want to see the beautiful game played
without discrimination and used as a social tool to unite communities,
overcome exclusion and create social change.

'Our
focus is on tackling racism of all kinds, homophobia, and to empower
minorities and women to realise their personal and collective
potential.'

The general objectives of the FARE network are:

To
promote a commitment to fight discrimination at all levels of football
across Europe – in stadiums, on the pitch, in administration, in
coaching and sport education and through the mediaUse the appeal of football to tackle societal discriminationTo foster networking and exchange of good practice transnationallyTo
undertake activities to capacity build and empower marginalized and
discriminated groups, in particular young people, migrants, ethnic
minorities, members of the LGBT communities and women.

Where do they get their money from

Funding has come from the European Commission, UEFA and smaller bodies such as Stand Up Speak Up, a campaign launched by Thierry Henry and Nike to fight racism.

Did FARE have anyone at the match

No. They operate as a conduit for complaints of racism.

So why are they getting involved

Despite having no direct experience of the chanting, FARE claim they are duty bound to lodge a complaint after collating evidence sent to them and after studying media reports of the match.

And why do they think the chant was racist

That is far from clear. The bonfire song is sung at football stadiums across Britain without any suggestions of racism. Some suggest the inclusion of Anton Ferdinand as well as his brother Rio has turned the song into a racist attack. FARE have talked only of an ‘undercurrent of race’. Others point to connotations of the Ku Klux Klan.

What happens next

FIFA will assess the complaint next week. If the allegations are proved it is possible, but unlikely, that England could end up being forced to play their next match behind closed doors. Hungary and Bulgaria played in empty stadiums as a result of FIFA punishments.

Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 Live:
'Whether it's racist or not, it's certainly unacceptable. It's vile and
it shouldn't be part of sport. Something needs to be done about it.

'These
are the supporters of the England national team who are travelling
abroad and singing songs like that. What messages does it send out about
the type of people we are and who we represent

'The
Football Association should be taking a stance on this about the people
it wants supporting the England team, the image it wants to send
abroad.

'I've already
contacted the chairman of the Football Association and said this has to
be looked at, investigated and dealt with. Do you want to be having an
army of fans who call themselves the England fans travelling abroad,
being abusive to their own players like that, or indeed other people

'FIFA will determine (whether it is racist) but clearly we can take a stance on that. We have policies

on anti-racism, homophobia and all other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Why are we so quiet about it'

FIFA said in a statement: 'We can
confirm that FIFA has been contacted by FARE regarding the FIFA World
Cup qualifier match between San Marino and England last Friday.

'FIFA will now analyse the content of the documents and next steps will be determined in due course.'

The ultimate sanction, if FIFA take action against England, is playing a World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.

FARE, headed by Piara Powar, did not have
observers at the game as it was not expected to be 'high risk', but were
supplied with information about the chants by people who were and they
have decided to act.

The organisation is a pan-European
network that aims to rid racism from football. They also reported racist
or xenophobic incidents at Croatia v Serbia and Poland v Ukraine,
matches where members were present.

The FA did not know
an official complaint had been made when Sportsmail enquired but they
are aware of the songs.

English fans also sang about the IRA and 'German
bombers' during the World Cup qualifier but FARE made it clear the
Ferdinand chanting was the reason FIFA had been notified.

A FARE spokeswoman said: 'It refers to the racist abuse Rio Ferdinand received, along with his brother Anton.

'We don't make the judgement. We send a
report to FIFA but in the end its their decision whether they open
proceedings or not. And whether they issue a fine or not.'

An
FA spokesman said: 'We have not been notified on this matter and until
we get a full report it would not be appropriate to say anything.'

Powar told Sportsmail:
‘It’s not really the sort of thing we are generally attuned to looking
at – fans abusing players of their own country who may not have been
picked.

'Nevertheless if it happens at a game, even if the focus of the abuse isn’t there it’s still happening.

‘One
of the things we want to underline straight off is that sometimes
racism doesn’t only take the form of monkey chants or bananas being
thrown. Sometimes there are things that are more subtle at play.

‘In the end we are not responsible for
making a decision on whether England fans are guilty of racism here but
we do have a duty to report things that are said to us because
individuals have reported them as racist or xenophobic within the
context.'

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Discussions: Hodgson says that if he calls Rio up again he will need to speak to him about his fitness first

He added: ‘If someone says to us, “We think
this is a big issue”, and there doesn’t seem to be malicious intent from
their perspective then we are obliged to report it.

'We have people who look at this
stuff and they have a fairly clear idea of the standards required by
governing bodies.

'It’s then put to them and it’s their process. In this
case it’s FIFA’s process. They see whether the evidence hits the
standard to take forward a prosecution.

'FIFA, in the last couple of
incidents they’ve dealt with, have shown a stronger side. They banned
Hungary and Bulgaria from playing with fans last Friday. Forced them to
play behind closed doors.

'That’s quite rare to have a major tournament
qualifier behind closed doors. The last two incidents we reported FIFA showed a very strong hand.'

FARE feel the use of the ‘You know
what you are’ chant also has a racial element, given the history of the
chant in the Terry case.

Peter Herbert, chairman of the
Society for Black Lawyers, insists the bonfire chant does have racist
overtones, adding: ‘We’re uncovering a hard core of racist fans out
there and it doesn’t take very much to trigger their abuse.

‘Some England fans, in that sense,
would claim the Ku Klux Klan are not racist. I think anybody with any
sense and understanding of how racism operates will see that this is
clearly racially motivated and is directed at him. It would not have
been said if it had been a white footballer in the same situation.’