English soccer reached a landmark in the fight to stamp out racism on Wednesday when, 24 hours after Liverpool's Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight games, Chelsea captain John Terry learned he faced criminal charges for racial abuse.
As Terry declared his innocence, with Chelsea's backing, and Liverpool protested at the outcome of the FA Commission that sanctioned Suarez, the players' union leader said the latter's punishment was "a very strong message to the rest of the world".
Commenting before British authorities authorised the prosecution of England captain Terry, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Gordon Taylor said it was clear racism would not be tolerated in the English game.
He said: "This was an independent commission experienced in law and football and they must have had compelling evidence and it sends out a very strong message to the rest of the world."
Suarez was found guilty by an FA independent regulatory commission of abusing Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra during the match at Anfield on Oct. 15.
Suarez argued that due to cultural differences he did not realise that the language he used was acceptable in his homeland but was seen as racist in Europe. He is expected to appeal.
He was also fined 40,000 pounds ($62,800).
"I understand the point about cultural differences," Taylor was quoted as saying by British media, "but if you come to this country all players have to abide by not just the laws of the game, but the laws of the land as well.
"Referring to someone's skin colour has got to be offensive - it's self-evident.
"No one can say the FA have ducked this issue and, bearing in mind the outcry in this country over (FIFA president) Sepp Blatter's remarks (on racism), it sends out an important message.
"This is a timely reminder that the FA, the PFA and the clubs continue education programmes particularly for players coming from abroad, that it is never right to make reference to a person's skin colour or nationality."
He added: "We are a multicultural society and a cosmopolitan league and players must have equal respect for people regardless of their nationality or skin colour.
"You can understand Liverpool being upset as they are a top quality club with a top quality manager but perhaps it is a timely reminder that players new to this country need to be advised about what is unacceptable."
He said the high-profile nature of the two cases would reinforce the message.
"This is a situation involving two of our biggest clubs and at a very sensitive time and it reiterates the message we want to get out."
Blatter provoked a media outcry when he suggested, during a television interview, that racism on the pitch should be settled by a handshake. He later apologised For his comments.
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($1 = 0.6372 British pounds)