Beckham to lead anti-racism campaign

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England captain David Beckham is set to head a Football Association campaign to combat racism and violence among national fans. FA officials said that Beckham would record a message to be played before the kickoff at England’s next two home matches. England play a friendly international against Serbia and Montenegro at Leicester City’s ground on June 3 followed by the Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia at Middlesbrough eight days later. The move follows racist abuse and crowd trouble at last month’s Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, for which England were fined 150,000 Swiss francs ($111,600) by UEFA last Thursday. England escaped being ordered to play the Slovakia game behind closed doors with UEFA acknowledging FA efforts to stamp out hooliganism, including plans to ban for life fans who run on to the pitch at their matches. A senior FA official added: “Beckham is the ideal person for this as he’s the one player all his team mates and all the England fans respect. We hope people listen to him and act accordingly.” FA sources said when Kevin Keegan was England manager his recorded messages in 1990 and 2000 asking supporters not to boo the other team’s national anthem had considerable effect in improving fan behaviour. England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and other leading players would join Beckham in the initiative. The anti-racist group Kick It Out welcomed their involvement.

Source: Daily Telegraph