December 22nd, 2011
04:47 PM GMT
(CNN) – With football facing another racism row, questions are being raised about how the "beautiful game" can protect its brand – and its players’ marketability.
In November, FIFA president Sepp Blatter stoked controversy after telling CNN that racism on the pitch could be settled with a handshake. On Tuesday Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing a Manchester United player in October.
The UK prosecution service Wednesday said England football captain John Terry would face charges of racially abusing another player.
Terry will appear before magistrates in west London on February 1, 2012, and faces a maximum penalty of £2,500 ($3,900). He has denied the charges, saying in a statement that he will fight “tooth and nail to prove my innocence.”
Whatever the outcome of the case, football itself has been tainted, says Ray Rudowski, regional director of crisis planning and training at PR agency Edelman. He told CNN that the wider questions for sponsors are how to use their influence and association with the game to ensure racism is eliminated.
The sport, Rudowski says, needs to admit to its problems if it wants to clean up. It then needs to formulate a policy for dealing with any issues that arise.
Individual situations are more complicated, he adds - but they should try and “reframe the conversation around ending racism as a stain on the game.”
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