Scuffles between sports players rarely capture the attention of heads of state, but now, England’s recurring issue of racism among its soccer teams has caused prime minister David Cameron to call for an official summit on racism in the sport.
"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," Cameron said, according to The National.
Although racism on the soccer field is no new issue, a recent brawl between two players drove Cameron to make the decision to call a meeting.
At a Manchester United — Liverpool match Saturday, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, fresh off of an eight-match suspension for hurling racially abusive language to Manchester’s Patrice Evra, a Black player, refused to shake Evra’s hand as the teams lined up before the match began.
The incident continued as the handshake snub turned into a full-fledged scuffle during halftime.
"The lesson of the last couple of months is that you can never be complacent and the prime minister is very, very concerned to make sure that we don't go back to the bad old days, but also that we are absolutely on our mettle to make sure that the football authorities and the government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem,” U.K. culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC.
While the incident itself may not have been enough to incite the ire of the prime minister, it comes less than a week after John Terry, player for both the Chelsea and England teams, was stripped of his position as captain of the national team and became the first soccer star to be criminally charged for racially charged statements against a Black player.
In addition to the racial hostility seen against Blacks on English soccer fields, a well-known Manchester official is now in hot water over comments he made about Jewish players.
Phil Morris, the referee appointments secretary at Manchester, was found guilty by a Football Association panel of instructing a referee to tell Jewish players to “remember the concentration camps" if they gave him “any sh--.” The association placed Morris on suspension until May for the comments.
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