Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will meet leading figures from the world of soccer at his London residence in a bid to “stamp out racism” in the sport, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
English soccer has been rocked by accusations of racism in recent months. Chelsea’s John Terry was stripped of his captaincy of the national team by the Football Association on Feb. 3 while he awaits trial on charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers in a match in October. Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was suspended for eight games for abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United the same month.
“The lesson of the last couple of months is that you can never be complacent,” Hunt, whose department oversees sports, said on BBC television today. “The prime minister is very concerned to make sure, certainly that we don’t go back to the bad old days, but also that we are absolutely on our mettle at making sure that the football authorities and the government continue to do everything we can to stamp out racism.”
Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand before yesterday’s match between Manchester United and Liverpool, an incident for which he apologized in a statement today.
“This is the kind of thing that can so easily escalate, which is why the prime minister has decided that he’s going to take a real interest and have this meeting in Downing Street,” Hunt said.
“It’s incredibly depressing,” the culture secretary said of yesterday’s incident. “It was very unsporting behavior. I’m sure the FA will look into whether any rules were broken.”
Hunt did not specify when the meeting will take place. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that it would be held this week.
--Editors: Alex Devine, Dan Liefgreen
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