FORMER Rangers captain Barry Ferguson has claimed that he saw Scottish football fans thow bananas at Mark Walters in the 1980s, and has called for Uefa to take a tough stance against racism in wake of Yaya Toure’s protests at the vile behaviour of CSKA Moscow fans in the Champions League this week.
Writing in his weekly newspaper column in the Daily Record today, Ferguson says coping with general abuse is part and parcel of being a professional footballer, but says the racist chanting CSKA fans have been accused of is yet another unacceptable example of a line being crossed.
Ibrox manager Graeme Souness broke down many race boundaries when he signed England’s international winger Mark Walters for Rangers from Aston Villa in December 1987. While there had been black footballers in Scottish football before, Walters had been the first high-profile player in decades.
However, 35-year-old Ferguson claims that when he attended Rangers matches as a young supporter he has memories of abuse and bananas being hurled at Walters.
‘Turns my stomach’
In his column, the Blackpool midfielder said: “I remember 1988 when I was just nine years old and Mark Walters had signed for Rangers.
“I used to go and watch a lot of games back then because my brother [Derek Ferguson, the former Rangers midfielder] was in them. To this day I can still see those images in my head of bananas being thrown on to the pitch.
“I was a kid. I didn’t really understand what was going on. But looking back, it turns my stomach to think Scottish fans could have acted like that.
“Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. If such a thing happened in a British stadium today there would be a massive outcry. You just need to see the stick Roy Hodgson has taken for telling a joke about a monkey to see how seriously the subject of race is treated.
“That ridiculous episode should never have got further than the dressing-room walls. Andros Townsend didn’t take offence because it wasn’t racism - it was just a bad joke.
“But what went on in Moscow on Wednesday night really does deserve all of our outrage. I just hope Uefa have the courage to do the right thing.”