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Sat, Jul

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THE fight to combat racism at this season's football matches owes much to a giveaway from a man who is paid to save.

A  50 pounds donation from Portsmouth keeper Shaka Hislop was the unlikely funding that helped create European football's biggest anti-racism organisation, which is celebrating its sixth birthday.

It was in 1996 that Hislop, then at Newcastle, handed over the money to fund a local anti-racism campaign run by Tynesider Ged Grebby.

From those humble beginnings was born Show Racism The Red Card, which is now at the forefront of the battle to combat racism both in England and Europe, along with another English-based organisation Kick It Out.

Among the big-name players, both past and present, who have flocked to support SRTRC are Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, John Barnes, Gary Lineker, Thierry Henry, David Seaman, Kieron Dyer and Henrik Larsson.

And among the top managers who are patrons of the organisation are Gerard Houllier, Martin O'Neill, Sir Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor.

"If it hadn't been for that fifty quid from Shaka, Show Racism The Red Card might not have existed," said Grebby. "It was a smashing gesture, and now we have grown to the point where our aims and ideals are being taken up by fans abroad.

"We've used the hero status of players to get our message over to young people. Top stars are often more closely listened to than teachers, parents or politicians.

"All told, 184 players have backed our events and that reflects great credit both on the individuals and their union, the Professional Footballers' Association."

Grebby added: "We can look back with pride at our first six years, but we are aware that racism is far from being defeated both in society in general as well as in the football ground.

The Red Card campaign distributes educational packs, CD-Roms and brochures to schools and sells videos which contain footage of stars giving their views on racism.