• International football

Rio shocked by chants from own fans

ESPN staff
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Rio Ferdinand has hit out at the England fans who sang abusive songs about him during the win against San Marino last week as a result of his withdrawal from the squad.

England have been reported to FIFA by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) over alleged racist chanting by their supporters towards Ferdinand and his brother Anton during last Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, 34, had been called up by England manager Roy Hodgson for their matches versus San Marino and Montenegro but the defender ultimately withdrew from the squad.

The centre-back, who has not been capped by his nation since 2011, pulled out due to fitness concerns and instead flew to Qatar to fulfil television commitments and undertake a pre-planned fitness regime.

It is these actions that are alleged to have played a part in the Ferdinand brothers being the subject of racist chanting from some England fans.

The United man took to his Twitter account on Friday morning to offer his own opinion on the behaviour of the supporters.

FARE said on its Twitter account it has "sent reports of racist or xenophobic abuse" to FIFA regarding three World Cup qualifiers, including England's 8-0 win in San Marino.

A FARE spokeswoman said in the Daily Mail: "It refers to the racist abuse Rio Ferdinand received, along with his brother Anton.

"We don't make the judgement. We send a report to FIFA but in the end it's their decision whether they open proceedings or not. And whether they issue a fine or not."

FARE's executive director Piara Powar told the Press Association: "Although we did not have observers at the match we have pulled together evidence sent to us including media comment and have passed that on to FIFA.

"I think that it's one of those things that is very subtle. We would say racism and other forms of discrimination is not always banana throwing and monkey chants. It can be very subtle and the people collating the reports believed it is strong enough to send on to FIFA.

"From the reports we have seen I personally think there was an undercurrent of race there, and other people have thought that it has been imbued with racist overtones.

"Whether FIFA think that is strong enough to take action is another question entirely and we accept that it is certainly an unusual report."

The Football Association has not yet made an official comment, but a source said: "The complaint was made to FIFA so it's up to them to respond."

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