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The Potters boss has insisted footballers must make a personal choice over whether they back the anti-racism group, after several high-profile names recently refused to do so

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has insisted players should be allowed to make a personal choice over whether they want to support anti-racism group Kick it Out.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was recently criticised by manager Sir Alex Ferguson after refusing to wear a t-shirt backing the campaign due to his unhappiness at the punishment received by John Terry for racially abusing his brother, Anton.

But in his programme notes ahead of Saturday's clash with Sunderland, Pulis claimed he would not intervene if a player wished to express dissatisfaction with Kick it Out.

“The issue of racism has hit the headlines again this week for various reasons. Today, I am happy to endorse the “Kick it Out” campaign against the evil of racism," the 54-year old said.

“When it comes to deciding if the lads feel the same, I personally leave it up to them. In this country, people have the right to say yes or no, and that must always remain the case.

“Although I have spoken to them about my own feelings, I also respect their views. What I will say is that as a lad who was brought up in Great Britain, I believe we have one of the greatest multi-racial countries in the world.

“I was brought up in the late 50’s, played in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, and over each generation – and it takes generations – this country and our sport has improved and protected the right of people to integrate, whatever colour or creed, to an extent that gives us a multi-cultural mix of different nationalities that perform in the Premier League every week.”

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