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Barcelona boss downplays racism row

Circuit de Catalunya boss Ramon Padreras believes that Formula One's racism row has been blown out of all proportion - and thinks his circuit did everything they could to resolve the situation when it first happened over the weekend

With the FIA awaiting a report from the Spanish motorsport authorities about what they plan to do to prevent a repeat of the scenes of abuse aimed at Lewis Hamilton, Padreras has moved to play down the mounting controversy.

He has also made it clear that he will do everything he can to ensure there is no repeat of the events in the future.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, he said: "Last Friday, ten people with a megaphone behaved in a unacceptable way against the British driver.

"Right away, we kicked two of them out, we cleared the stands right in front of McLaren's garage and we decided to take measures for Saturday, closing up the terrace right above them. The problem was solved then.

"In no way can the behaviour of ten fans represent the 55,000 who enjoyed the three days and knew how to behave.

"I think that in some cases the behaviour of some 10 or 15 people has been taken out of context, and we are in complete disagreement with that information.

"We are against any racist or xenophobic demonstration, even if it's from a few, and we are not going to allow a repeat of this in the future."

Despite Padreras' comments, the scenes of abuse still remain a big news story in the UK, with Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe saying he plans to write to the FIA to ask what action the governing body is going to take.

"I was shocked by those sickening images," said Sutcliffe. "How on Earth were fans dressed like this allowed into the circuit? Racism should not be tolerated and this isn't the first time British sportsmen have been racially abused in Spain.

"This brings into question whether the Grand Prix should be held at this track. I am going to write to the FIA to ask what action they are going to take in response to this. I am also going to write to the Spanish sports minister to express our ongoing concern about racism suffered by our sportsmen."

England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was also widely quoted in the British newspapers on Tuesday, after being asked about the Hamilton affair in a press conference.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "The T-shirts, the slogans on the shirts, the face painting. What's going to happen to the people involved? I'm intrigued to see the reaction from the governing bodies.

"There should be no room for that kind of stupidity and ignorance, not just in sport but in society. If there are punishments to be handed out I hope they're severe enough to deter people from going to stadiums or out in public going on like that."

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