Recurrence of racism, crowd trouble in England

ROB HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- The head of English football expressed concern Monday about the recurrence of racism and crowd trouble after Sunday's Manchester derby was marred by United defender Rio Ferdinand being hit by a coin and a fan arrested for racist abuse.

Coins had been aimed at the United players previously during the game at City, and one hit Ferdinand after Robin van Persie's stoppage-time goal clinched a 3-2 win for United.

A City fan also ran onto the pitch toward Ferdinand but was stopped by City goalkeeper Joe Hart, while a fan was arrested for alleged racial chants.

Nine people were charged by authorities in Manchester in connection with the derby disturbances, including one for a racially aggravated public offense and another for pitch encroachment, police said.

"It is deplorable to see those incidents and to see Rio Ferdinand with blood on his face is absolutely terrible," English Football Association chairman David Bernstein told Sky Sports television. "I think it's disturbing that we're seeing a recurrence of these types of incidents.

"We've had racial abuse issues, the odd pitch incursion, things being thrown at players -- it's very unacceptable and has to be dealt with severely."

In the past year, there have been several instances of racism by fans at Premier League matches, while Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea captain John Terry have served bans for racial abuse.

"It's very disappointing -- so much of football is so good, great things are happening in football as a whole, but these odd incidents get the headlines -- and understandably because they are serious matters, they are unforgivable things," Bernstein said. "When you think of the millions watching football every week, or involved in football, to see it hijacked by these incidents is awful so we have to deal with it in the strongest way we can. It's a difficult social problem. I think there's a copycat thing: something happens and other people copy it and this sort of thing can spiral."

As the FA investigates Sunday's incidents, Bernstein is encouraging clubs to impose life bans one anyone found guilty of misconduct at matches.

"It's important that matters are brought to a head and people understand that there is no room for this in football at all, and we'll do everything we can within the FA," he said. "I know the rest of football feels the same, it's a blot on the game."

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris