The Professional Footballers’ Association has called for a government inquiry into racism within football following allegations of racist abuse towards Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger in Sunday’s win at Tottenham.
Rudiger reported being the subject of monkey chants during the second half of the 2-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, shortly after Son Heung-min had been sent off for kicking out at him.
There were three stadium announcements saying that “racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game”.
Among a series of tweets following the match, the PFA posted: “Now more than ever we must unite and stand strong and together to confront, challenge and eradicate racist abuse in our stadiums and in our country.
“We believe that the time has come for all governing bodies to unite collectively to end this abuse.
“The PFA calls for a government enquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football and immediate and urgent action from an All-Party Group at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to address this urgent issue.”
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, speaking as a pundit on Sky Sports, had earlier called on the PFA to do more in the fight against racism.
Following the events at today’s Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea game, we are disgusted and dismayed that once again, a Premier League fixture has been tainted by abuse from the stands towards players.— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) December 22, 2019
He said: “We have a racism problem in the Premier League in England. And the Premier League have to step up, they hide behind the FA on this issue.
“Maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it is happening. That is the only way I can see it happening.
“I did not walk off the pitch when Ashley (Cole) was abused 15 years ago, and you might argue that now it’s okay for me to sit here in my ivory tower of a commentary box and suggest that players should walk off the pitch.
“Ultimately I would be ashamed of myself for not doing (it) 15 years ago as I would be absolutely proud of players for doing it now to empower them to think, do something about it and take it into your own hands.”
He continued: “The PFA need to act because it’s ultimately their job to protect players in their own country and they should protect players if the football associations don’t do it.”
Neville played in the England team with Cole – who, along with Shaun Wright-Phillips, was subjected to racist abuse during a 2004 friendly against Spain in Madrid.
Cole, also speaking on Sky Sports, feels the current anti-discrimination campaigns do not go far enough.
“You have a T-shirt in your place (in the dressing room). They are like, ‘Put that on for the warm-up, then you can take it off’,” the 39-year-old said. “People don’t really care.”
"We have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it's happening."— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 22, 2019
He added: “Why do they wait until something happens in the game to make the announcements? I don’t think it is enough – and is it going to stop?”It is kind of my fault as well that when I was abused I did not come out, but I just felt I didn’t have enough support.
“Raheem (Sterling) has changed that, he has the people on his side, whereas I did not feel I had that.”
Tottenham swiftly vowed to investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action against any guilty parties, with Chelsea quick to welcome their London rivals’ stance.
Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out said in a statement on Sunday evening: “We are aware of the alleged racist incidents at today’s game between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
“We applaud the action of referee Anthony Taylor in following step one of the protocol and the ensuing steps taken by Tottenham Hotspur in repeating the stadium announcements.
“We have offered our support to both of the clubs and also to Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.”
Speaking on Sky Sports News, KIO’s head of development Troy Townsend said: “It has always been there, but now incidents are getting reported more so it was good to see what happened today highlighted in the commentary so everyone knew what was going on.
“But unfortunately this minority, which continues to find its way into our grounds, are continuing to act in this disgraceful matter. It is something the game has to look at now as to what the next steps are.
“The Premier League, the FA and all the governing bodies have to take a long, hard look and say what do we do because what we are doing is not enough.”
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