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Cameron hosts anti-racism summit

Wed 22nd Feb 2012 | Football Governance

David Cameron has vowed to stop football being dragged back into the "bad old days of the past" as he prepares to host an anti-racism summit.

The Prime Minister said the Government was ready to help "crack" the issue of race discrimination which has recently re-emerged with a string of high-profile rows at the top of the sport.

Writing in The Sun, Mr Cameron, who will on Wednesday meet some of football's biggest stars, governing bodies and anti-discrimination groups, warned the issue cannot be simply brushed under the carpet.

"Recently racism has come back into the spotlight, with cases involving some of the most famous players in football, one of which has led to the resignation of the England manager," he said.

"We simply cannot brush this under the carpet. Football will crack this problem - and the Government stands ready to help.

"I am absolutely clear: We will not let recent events drag us back to the bad old days of the past."

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will also attend Wednesday's No 10 summit, which comes after the Government revealed plans to inject £3million into the Football Association's new National Coaching Centre, St George's Park.

Mr Cameron, who is an Aston Villa fan, said more black and minority ethnic people were needed as top-level managers and coaches and that the new FA centre in Staffordshire would encourage them to progress in the game.

He added: "Football has an enormous influence on young people. Like every other parent, I want to be sure when my children see their heroes play they aren't let down by foul, racist or violent behaviour.

"Footballers can be great role models who the public admire. But it can go the other way. If children see bad behaviour on the television or at the stadium they may copy and reproduce it in the playground."

The event to promote a more "inclusive" sport comes amid fears that high-profile incidents are harming its image.

Earlier this month Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was forced to apologise for refusing to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra before the teams' match.

Suarez had only recently returned to action for Liverpool following a ban for racially abusing Evra during a game in October.

England star John Terry is also due to face trial over the summer on charges of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. Terry denies the charges.

Those taking part in the discussions on Wednesday include former players John Barnes and Graeme Le Saux.

Amal Fashanu, who recently made a documentary about homosexuality in the sport, 14 years after her footballer uncle Justin hanged himself, will attend.

Representatives from the Football Association, the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers' Association are also due to be there.

At a charity reception last month, Mr Cameron said many people had 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," he said.

"Our football governing bodies, clubs and footballers themselves have a vital role to play as role models in this respect."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also spoken out about the need to encourage more people from ethnic minorities to become coaches.

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