PFA backs England in racism action
England football stars would be well within their rights to walk off the pitch if they are racially abused during Euro 2012, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association has said.
Clarke Carlisle revealed he would want to walk off the pitch if he received a torrent of racial abuse and he hoped his team-mates would support him. UEFA, the governing body, has stated players who walk off the pitch during the tournament in Ukraine and Poland in protest at racial abuse will be handed a yellow card.
Speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Carlisle admitted that during a visit to Poland last month he witnessed racial abuse and hooliganism in a league derby, despite having been told by the local police chief there had been no reported incidents in the past 16 months. He said: "The reality and what we are being told and is reported is vastly different."
"As a player, if you see that the officials aren't handling the situation then you are well within your rights to walk off the pitch in my opinion.
"Nobody should be abused in their work place, especially not racially. We don't want any form of discrimination at all in football. This is going to be a real test of UEFA to see if they have empowered their officials to take control of these situations.
"If you see that the referee is taking control of it, if he has stopped the game and it is one or two individuals and they are being sorted out, or if it is a group and he is taking the players off the pitch to sort it out, then you'd be happy because you know it is being dealt with."
But asked what he would do as a player if racial abuse was not being dealt with by a referee, he added: "If it happened to me I would want to walk off the pitch because I don't think anybody should be abused in their workplace and I would hope that my team-mates would support me."
Earlier, UK shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said players have the right to walk off the pitch.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: "Referees have the power to stop the game should any racist incidents occur - they should use it and be backed by the governing body when they do.
"However, if a referee ignored blatant racist abuse, and the England players or the management felt justified in walking off, they should be supported."