By ROB HARRIS,AP Sports Writer
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore insists the spate of recent racism cases has not harmed the English game and claims other countries might not have acted so decisively.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing a black opponent, while Chelsea captain John Terry will appear in court next month on a charge of hurling a racist insult during another league match in October.
The cases prompted a British parliamentary committee to launch an investigation into whether enough is being done to combat racism in football, with a hearing due to take place in March that could hear evidence from the accused and victims.
But Scudamore maintains that English football is unrivaled in its determination to rid the game of racism.
“When it comes to the racism issue there is zero tolerance,” Scudamore said late Wednesday. “We as a sport have led the line and continue to lead the line, there’s no room for it.”
The English Football Association has said that Suarez calling Manchester United defender Patrice Evra “Negro” or “Negros” seven times during an on-field confrontation in an October league match has “damaged the image of English football around the world.”
Scudamore takes a different view. Asked if the league’s brand had been damaged by the cases, he replied: “No I don’t think so.”
“I am absolutely confident that English football’s record of dealing with this issue is good,” he added. “All that has happened in the last few weeks has been dealt with. Look at the reaction to it — the media reaction, the public reaction, the supporter reaction.
“I am proud that we are in a country that can deal with it, has dealt with it and got the reaction it has, which is far better than what goes on in many other countries where it would not have got any column inches.”
Terry’s case has been front page news in Britain and made headlines around the world. The England captain 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 Chelsea match in October.
“Nobody’s complacent, there’s always work to be done (on combatting racism),” Scudamore said while not commenting on the specifics on recent cases. “If there’s more we can do then fine.”
Scudamore was speaking at a Premier League 4 Sport event, which has helped more than 250,000 young people engage in four Olympic sports — badminton, judo, table tennis and volleyball — ahead of the London Olympics. Basketball, handball, hockey and netball will also be added to the program after the Premier League pledged an extra 2 million pounds ($3 million) of funding.
The government says it could also give Premier League clubs money if they are attracting youngsters to sport.
“If public money makes these schemes go further and wider I don’t see why they shouldn’t qualify,” Scudamore said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press