thumbnail Hello,

Arsenal's Spanish international midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, has responded to the Football Association's wish for the friendly against England to be moved away from the Bernabeu Stadium because of alleged racism in Madrid.

Cesc Fabregas is not convinced that the English regard the Spanish as racists.

He addressed the issue following the controversy regarding a friendly international between the two countries scheduled for February 11th, which was originally going to be played at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

The FA cited outbreaks of racism endured by England's black players at the same venue four years ago as a reason for moving the game to a different stadium away from Madrid.

Fifa fined the Spanish federation 100,000 Swiss francs (£45,000) after England's Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Jenas were racially abused during England's last visit in 2004.

However, Fabregas, the 21-year-old Arsenal midfielder, does not think England as a whole sees the Spanish people as racists.

"I don't know if racism is the word," said Fabregas. "I had not yet broken into the Spanish team for that game four years ago, but a good friend and team-mate of mine, Cole, played with England and he felt hurt.

"The players may have returned to England annoyed, but I do not think we have got to the point where Spaniards are viewed as racists. I don't think we are – it is a bit extreme.

"It is necessary to reduce the importance of this charge because in football the fans are always going to support the team and be behind us."

England manager Fabio Capello and deputy captain Rio Ferdinand have already said they would be happy to play the Spain v England friendly at the Bernabeu.

Ferdinand said: "Going back to Madrid is not a problem.

"Wherever the FA ask us to play isn't a problem. The players won't mind that. Everyone knows what happened last time.

"If we did go back there, it would be nice to imagine that the same kind of stuff that happened to the black players last time doesn't happen again. You remember different games for different reasons. That one was remembered for the wrong reasons, which isn't nice.

"The Bernabeu holds a lot of great memories for different players and fans across the world, but those were bad memories for us from that one international."


Mark Hinton, Goal.com

Related