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British legislators to investigate racism in sports after high-profile incidents in soccer

01/10/2012 09:42 EST | Updated 03/11/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - A British parliamentary committee will investigate whether enough is being done to combat racism in football after incidents involving high-profile players.

Both England captain and Chelsea defender John Terry plus Liverpool's Uruguay striker, Luis Suarez, have recently faced racism investigations after insulting opponents during matches.

"It is worrying that there does appear to have been a number of incidents recently," culture, media and sport committee chairman John Whittingdale said in a telephone interview. "The hope that racism on and off the pitch in football was a thing of the past has been shaken by some of the incidents that have occurred. This is obviously something we regard very seriously.

"The committee felt it was right to look at the whole issue to establish what is being done to counter (racism) and what more might be done."

The House of Commons committee hopes at a hearing on March 6 to hear evidence from people involved in the recent cases.

Terry is due to appear in court on Feb. 1 to face a criminal charge after allegedly racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October.

Also in October, Suarez was found to have called Manchester United defender Patrice Evra "Negro" or "Negros" seven times, resulting in a seven-match ban and 40,000-pound (US$62,000) fine.

Liverpool was further condemned by anti-racism groups for allowing the squad and manager Kenny Dalglish to wear T-shirts featuring Suarez's picture in a show of solidarity ahead of a match.

In another case involving Liverpool last week, the 18-time English champions had to apologize to an Oldham player who was reduced to tears by insults from their fans during an FA Cup match at Anfield.

"It would be interesting (at the hearing) not just to hear from football administrators, but from players, ex-players and the clubs," said CMS committee member Damian Collins, a Conservative Party legislator. "We are interested in finding out if there is a growing problem, an underlying problem, that's been hidden or if those are one or two isolated events.

"A huge stride has been taken in the last 20-30 years to improve race relations in the UK ... we are surprised this has come back in the way it has."

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