London: British Prime Minister David Cameron
pledged to prevent the spectre of racism returning to football
when he hosted a summit on day following some recent
Addressing football leaders and anti-racism campaigners in
Downing Street, Cameron warned that abusive behaviour by
football stars is being imitated by youngsters and must be
In July, John Terry will become the first high-profile
footballer to stand trial for racially abusing an opponent
following an alleged confrontation that led to the Chelsea
defender being stripped of the England captaincy earlier this
The abuse against black players was thought to have been
eradicated after blighting English football in the 1970s and
`80s, and Cameron cautioned that recent events must not "drag
us back to the bad old days of the past."
"We have some problems still today," Cameron said at the
start of the summit. "We need to act quickly to make sure
those problems do not creep back in.
"I hope what we can agree today is to make sure that
everybody who has the ability to deal with this issue takes
the steps they can ... if everyone plays their role, then we
can easily crush and deal with this problem."
Terry allegedly racially abused Queens Park Rangers
defender Anton Ferdinand during a match in October that was
broadcast around the world.
English Football Association chairman David Bernstein told
the summit that the governing body had already shown a
willingness to impose "very tough sanctions where necessary."
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches
for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra,
also in October.
But Suarez created a new storm after returning to action
earlier this month by refusing to shake hands with Evra, who
is black, before a match at Old Trafford.
"What happens on the field influences what happens off the
field. You see children as young as 6 imitating the behaviour
they see on the field," Cameron said.
"So this is not just important for football, it`s
important for the whole country ... we want to make sure
football is all about a power to do good, rather than anything
Cameron believes that combating racism would be helped by
having more black and ethnic minority coaches in the game.