Keep the peace! Players warned over potentially explosive race-row cup ties
The four clubs involved in race-row ‘replays’ in the FA Cup this weekend have been warned about the behaviour of their players and staff.
The message was backed up by Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, who urged players to let football do the talking.
The Football Association have held intense discussions with officials from Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers. They have also spoken to Metropolitan and Merseyside police and will have independent crowd control advisers at the fourth-round ties.
Race row: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand will meet again on Saturday
The FA are anxious to prevent anything which may incite trouble, such as provocative goal celebrations or incendiary public comments around these ties, which are already fraught with ill-feeling from race rows earlier in the season.
Gerrard will hammer home the message to the players, insisting: ‘We don’t want any front-page stories from this game or any stories besides a football match between two top sides. We all have a responsibility to ensure that this game is remembered for the football.’
Liverpool face rivals United for the first time since Luis Suarez received an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Managing director Ian Ayre added: 'It is the FA Cup, a great competition in English football and one we have a great history in and we want that to be what everyone focuses on.
'We have massive rivalry with Manchester United but those who are respectful also have respect for them because they are a great footballing side and team and like us they have been very successful.
Stirring it up: Wednesday's Anfield banner harked back to the Evra-Suarez spat
'We mustn't detract from fans chanting and singing at each other but it needs to be a rivalry thing rather than a hatred thing.
about a great spirit and a match between two great teams and it is
certainly not hatred – there is no place for hatred in football.
'It is not about some sort of hatred for Manchester United – we all have that passion and want to beat them but it starts and finishes there.
'The world will be watching and we want the world to know Liverpool is a great club with great supporters.
'There is a lot of attention on this game, in some ways for all the wrong reasons, and we should see that as an opportunity.
'There have been a lot people with a perceptions about Liverpool in last month or so, making comments which are wrong, and what our fans, players and manager have a chance to do is put that right.
'We are a great club with a great set of supporters and that is what people should see.'
Flashpoint: Patrice Evra was racially abused by Luis Suarez (left)
Visitors United may be without talisman Wayne Rooney for the tie.
Rooney is a major doubt after picking up knee and ankle knocks in last weekend’s win over Arsenal. Sportsmail understands that the striker has not trained this week.
will face QPR for the first time since police charged John Terry with
racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a game in October. Terry is due
in court on Wednesday and denies the allegation.
Ferdinand is set to receive a police escort to and from Loftus Road, according to reports.
FA have been encouraged by good levels of communication between
Liverpool and United and were impressed with a joint statement issued by
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and QPR counterpart Tony Fernandes,
appealing for calm.
Mike Dean is in charge of the west London derby, which kicks off at noon.
Martin Atkinson was down for Anfield — his first Manchester United game since annoying Sir Alex Ferguson last season — but he withdrew because of a virus and is replaced by Mark Halsey.
Additional reporting: Chris Wheeler