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Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

Blues' Terry to face charges


LONDON — England captain John Terry will be the first soccer player to face a court in Britain on a charge of racially abusing an opponent, the most serious step yet in a crackdown on racism in the sport.

Prosecutors made the decision to charge Terry on Wednesday after studying footage that was broadcast live around the world in October, showing Terry apparently hurling abuse at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match.

Terry has said his comments were taken out of context and vowed to fight the charges, after prosecutors declared the defender had constituted a "racially aggravated public order offense."

Just a day earlier, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, a Uruguay international, received an eight-match ban and £40,000 ($62,000) fine from the F.A. for racially abusing a Manchester United player during another match in October.

Although Suarez's abusive conduct is yet to be investigated by the police, anti-racism campaigners are hailing the twin-pronged actions as evidence that new weapons are being deployed against racism in soccer.

"It's a very important point in the history of campaigning against racism in football," Kick It Out chairman Herman Ouseley said. "People who are very cynical — and a lot of black footballers have been right up until I think yesterday — think it's a waste of time (complaining about racism) because the campaign hasn't stopped these things from happening, it goes on, it's quiet, it's subtle and nothing ever gets done.

"It's quite important that (players) now feel a bit more confident that, although it has taken a while, due process with decisive action could well make a change."

Racial abuse in European soccer is nothing new, although most high-profile cases have involved abusive chants from supporters toward opposing players — not on-field incidents.

A wave of outrage was provoked by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last month when he downplayed the issue and suggested players involved in such spats should settle the issue with a handshake after the game.

"I think the problem has never gone away — it's just become more subtle and less obvious," said Ouseley, a member of the House of Lords. "I think there is an awareness that more has to be done."

The latest investigations in England come despite the country having made huge strides in largely eradicating the racial abuse of black players that blighted the game here in the 1970s and '80s.

Several black players in that era, including England and Liverpool winger John Barnes, faced racist abuse without the perpetuators being punished.

"It is easy for (the F.A.) to jump on the bandwagon now, but why didn't they do it in the '80s?" Barnes said. "That's what gripes me . . . now it's politically correct for them to get involved and make the right decision."

The F.A. has yet to issue a ruling on the Terry case, saying it will wait for the police investigation to be completed first. Police and prosecutors became involved after a member of the public made a complaint against the defender, having seen footage of his comments.

United crushes Fulham


LONDON — Manchester United managed the rare feat this season of outshining Manchester City's goal-scoring prowess on Wednesday to keep the heat on its neighbor in the Premier League title race.

While City maintained its two-point lead over United with a 3-0 victory over Stoke, United routed Fulham 5-0 at Craven Cottage.

Such emphatic victories have been the norm for big-spending City this season, but for United it was the biggest in three months.

"It was very impressive, we've not scored as many as we'd like to but we'd been playing well," Giggs said. "The second part of the season we always kick on and put in performances and that's pleasing."

It was a tighter encounter at Aston Villa, with Arsenal relying on Yossi Benayoun's late goal to secure a 2-1 victory

Liverpool is two points behind Arsenal after a 0-0 draw at Wigan.

Newcastle contiued to fall with a 3-2 home loss to West Bromwich Albion extending the side's winless run to six games.

At Goodison Park, Leon Osman 's goal gave Everton, a 1-0 triumph over Swansea.

Sunderland overtook Queens Park Rangers just above the relegation zone after a 3-2 victory over QPR.

Gamba call on Serrao


OSAKA — Gamba Osaka are set to appoint Brazilian Jose Carlos Serrao as their new manager for next season, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The 61-year-old possesses a wealth of coaching experience with clubs such as Sao Paulo in Brazil and Suwon Bluewings in South Korea.

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