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Fight against racism needs strong action; Kick It Out often falls short of the mark.

Byline: Royal Blue Royal Blue E-mail me at greg.okeeffe@liverpoolecho.co.uk WITH GREG O'KEEFFE

THE public figures of the FA-backed Kick It Out equality campaign say all the right things in public when the issue of racism in football rears its ugly head.

Indeed those on the front-line of the campaign do plenty of worthy and essential work up and down the country all year to try and erase discrimination from the national game.

But black players who opt against wearing T-shirts in support of Kick It Out's latest campaign this weekend should not be met with a barrage of criticism.

In fact, people like Reading striker Jason Roberts should be listened to, not dismissed, when he complains that the campaign does not go far enough.

"I'm totally committed to kicking racism out of football," he said.

"But when there's a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it. I think people feel let down by what used to be called "Let's Kick Racism Out of Football". People don't feel like they have been strong enough." Kick " It's not just Roberts either. There will be others who choose not to pay what they feel is lip service to anti-racism by slipping on a T-shirt, and their concerns are valid.

In a sense the good work done by the campaign is undermined at times by its supposed-backers at Soho Square who so often fail to grasp the nettle when it comes to actually, well, kicking racism out of football.

Just ask Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo.

In 2007 it was alleged that Emre had used racially aggravated abusive and/or insulting words towards Yobo - within ear shot of his team-mates - during Everton's 3-0 victory over Newcastle.

It was established that the Turkish international had a case to answer so Howard and Lescott appeared at a tribunal in York, only for the midfielder to be cleared on what was effectively a technicality when it emerged the FA wanted 'overwhelming' evidence - and the Everton players' accounts varied on the precise semantics of the racist term used. The saga had already dragged on for four months, becoming a pantomime, and left a sour taste behind at Goodison.

Roberts & Co believe, in the light of John Terry's recent lenient treatment, it's about time the FA, and in turn Kick It Out, stopped fudging the issue and got tough.

They've got a point.

CAPTION(S):

ALLEGATION: Joseph Yobo says he was racially abused by Newcastle's Emre - but the FA cleared him
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2012
Words:433
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