Separate black footballers' union talks underway, says lawyer

Peter Herbert claims that several professionals are involved in "preliminary" discussions over the formation of a Black Players' Assocation but refuses to name names
Talks over the formation of a separate union for black footballers have begun, according to leading human rights lawyer Peter Herbert.

Herbert, who chairs the Society of Black Lawyers, claims that discussions are at a preliminary stage but already involve a number of players from all levels of the game, including Premier League stars.

"I think we have reached a watershed," Herbert told BBC Radio 5 Live. "The Society of Black Lawyers have been looking at the situation and held informal talks with a few black players.

"What we needed essentially was for black players themselves to take the initiative which they now appear to have done and form a progressive black footballers' association which can properly represent their interests and speak on their behalf whenever there is a legal issue - they suffered abuse in Serbia, they suffer abuse in the UK.

"Or there is the more mundane discrimination type of matters which give rise to concern every day of the week for the majority of our community. That is what we are assisting with. We are in discussions, things are at a preliminary stage."

Over the weekend of October 20-21 a selection of players took a stance and refused to wear T-shirts supporting the anti-discrimination campaign, most notably Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and Reading striker Jason Roberts.

"At the moment we cannot say names but I think you will be well aware that Rio Ferdinand is a person who has taken a stance"
- Peter Herbert

Herbert refused to name any of the professionals involved but hinted at the involvement of Ferdinand, adding: "They have not come forward lightly. We are very aware it is not an easy task for anybody.

"At the moment we cannot say names but I think you will be well aware that [Ferdinand] is a person [who] has taken a stance.

"The FA should not fear black players self-organising. They should embrace it.

"If there is a huge swell of racist chanting or abuse at a football match, the teams should come off. Not just black players, everyone should come off."