THE Football Association will tell FIFA they have found no evidence of racist chanting by their fans at last month’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino, Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England, said last night.
The FA began an inquiry following the match on 22 March after Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare) contacted world football’s ruling body citing English fans for singing a racist song aimed at brothers Rio and Anton Ferdinand.
If Fifa were to uphold FARE’s complaints, England could be ordered to play behind closed doors.
Bevington said: “Our security officers have gone through all the evidence which has been recorded and they cannot find or identify any individuals or groups chanting racist abuse.
“Quite clearly people have acted in good faith in reporting this and we are not disputing or refuting the reports, but we have found no evidence of racist chanting by our fans at the match.”
The FA, in a statement issued yesterday, said they would inform Fifa of its findings.
In that statement, Bevington continued: “We continue to work hard to ensure that any individual who did chant anything of a racist nature in San Marino is identified and, if proven, appropriate action will be taken. Therefore, we continue to review our video footage from the fixture.
“Both Fare and members of the media have a duty to report such matters, and we fully support them in their right to do so.”
Rio Ferdinand, who won the last of his 81 England caps in June 2011, angered some fans when he withdrew after being recalled to the squad for the Group H match in San Marino and against Montenegro four days later.
His brother Anton has not played for England, but was involved in the infamous John Terry racism case in October 2011 while he was playing at Queens Park Rangers and was racially abused by the Chelsea captain. He is now playing for Bursaspor in Turkey.
England coach Roy Hodgson said he did not speak to Rio before naming him in his squad and the defender pulled out, citing a special fitness routine he needs to adopt to help control a long-standing back problem.
After his international withdrawal, he flew to Qatar to work as a TV pundit for the San Marino game.
Fifa is obliged to investigate FARE’s complaints and, if it decides any chanting or singing was racist, England could be punished heavily.
Bulgaria and Hungary were forced to play behind closed doors last month following earlier cases of racist and anti-Semitic chants at World Cup matches.