TWO former Black Cats captains have given their backing to a new campaign to help combat racism.
Gary Bennett and Kevin Ball, who between them played more than 700 times for Sunderland AFC, are calling for FA fines from racist cases to be given to the organisations which tackle the problem.
North East-based Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) has called for fines, such as the £40,000 paid by Luis Suarez, to be split 50-50 between its campaign and Kick It Out.
“I am fully behind the idea of SRtRC receiving 50 per cent of money generated by fines for racist offences,” said Gary. “Both SRtRC and Kick It Out are underfunded.
“These additional funds would make a massive difference in helping do even more great work.”
SRtRC has estimated that fines collected in the last year in cases of racism amount to £320,000 – an amount that would represent a major boost to anti-racism education work.
SRtRC chief executive Ged Grebby said: “With the exception of the PFA, we don’t have any planed income from footballing authorities for 2013.
“Whilst we receive great support in kind from the football clubs, ultimately to run a professional organisation you need funding.
“The funding from fines is not planned income for the FA and it should be used to fund anti-racism and it should be used to challenge and change racist attitudes.”
Grants to the campaign from the Premier League and PFA community fund will end in 2012 and SRtRC has written to FA chairman David Bernstein asking for new support via collected fines.
Gary added: “Racism is a problem in society and football is a great vehicle to educate people to help one day eradicate it.”
The idea is backed nationally with further support coming former from England manager Graham Taylor, as well as from players old and new such as John Barnes, Sol Campbell, Robbie Keane and former Sunderland striker David Kelly.