Taylor - Respect shredded

PFA chief fears football is failing in battle against racism

Luis Suarez: Refused to shake Patrice Evra's hand before kick-off

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PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor believes it could be fair to say the Respect campaign has been destroyed after Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra failed to shake hands at Old Trafford.

The programme was brought in by the Football Association in an attempt to address unacceptable behaviour in football from grassroots to elite level.

But Respect has taken a series of blows this season, including the alleged racism of former England captain John Terry towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, and on Saturday it received another setback.

Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra in the lunchtime kick-off between Manchester United and Liverpool in what was the Uruguayan's first start since returning from an eight-game ban for racially abusing the Frenchman.

"It is particularly disappointing and upsetting, of course. It is something we cannot afford to ignore if we are going to succeed with our battle against racism."

Gordon Taylor

Quotes of the week

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had said earlier in the week he expected Suarez to shake hands with Evra, which is a part of pre-match protocol under Respect, and Taylor had also been led to believe the gesture would take place.

Upsetting

But with Suarez pulling out of the handshake, a half-time scuffle in the tunnel at Old Trafford, and ugly scenes after the final whistle, the PFA chief fears English football is failing in its battle to tackle anti-social activity.

Taylor told Sky Sports News when asked about the Respect programme: "At the moment, it is tainted and you could say it has been shredded.

"But we have got to rebuild. Nobody ever said the battle against racism would be easy."

Taylor has described the ongoing feud between Suarez and Evra, which first began in October's Premier League game at Anfield, as 'upsetting'.

"We were very much hoping there would handshakes in a proper manner and that we could draw a line under it. Everybody knows what has happened," he said.

Inflamed

"But, if anything, the manner in which it (the handshake) was refused as well, that exacerbated the situation and inflamed the situation.

"It is particularly disappointing and upsetting, of course. It is something we cannot afford to ignore if we are going to succeed with our battle against racism."

Taylor now wants to hold talks which will include representatives of clubs, the FA, the Premier League, the PFA and the League Managers' Association in an attempt to address the situation.

"We need to have some respect for players between each other, respect for the laws of the game and, above all, respect for a social battle against racism whereby football, because it does achieve such publicity, needs to set the right example to the next generation and in fact to society as a whole," he said. "At the moment, it is plainly not doing that."