Reading striker Jason Roberts carried out his vow not to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt in the warm-up at Anfield in protest at what he perceives to be a lack of action by the organisation in combating racism in football.
While the rest of his team-mates – and all their Liverpool opponents except goalkeeper Brad Jones – donned the tops for the pre-match drills the 34-year-old went without, although Gareth McCleary and Jem Karacan removed theirs soon after entering the field.
After high-profile incidents involving Reds striker Luis Suarez – banned for eight matches – and Chelsea’s John Terry – suspended for four games – in the last year, Roberts was particularly unhappy with the latter punishment.
“The four-match ban was, for me, not a heavy enough sanction for what happened,” Roberts said in the week.
“I’m totally committed to kicking racism out of football but when there’s a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues, then I will happily support it. I think people feel let down by what used to be called ’Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’.
“People don’t feel like they have been strong enough.”
Meanwhile at Old Trafford, Rio Ferdinand also chose to ignore Kick it Out’s anti-racism message at the start of Manchester United’s pre-match warm-up to their encounter with Stoke.
Whilst all his outfield team-mates wore the black ’one game, one community’ T-shirts as agreed, Ferdinand sported a bright red United track suit top.
Ferdinand eventually took his training top off to reveal he was wearing a United training shirt, with the DHL sponsors logo.
It represents an obvious snub to the anti-racism message, and directly contradicts Alex Ferguson’s stance on the matter yesterday when the United boss was asked what he thought of Roberts’ protest.
“Everyone should be united, with all the players in the country wearing the Kick it Out warm-up tops,” Ferguson had said. “I don’t know what point he (Roberts) is trying to make. I don’t know if he is trying to put himself on a different pedestal from everyone.
“But he really should be supporting all the rest of the players who are doing it.”