Play on in the face of racist abuse, urges former England defender Parker

Former England defender Paul Parker believes “too many good men” have “stood their ground” in the face of racial abuse to see players now deciding to walk off the pitch.

Following recent high-profile incidents, there have been calls for direct action.

England players, including Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi, had monkey chants directed at them during the Euro 2020 qualifier away to Montenegro, while earlier this week Juventus forward Moise Kean was racially abused by Cagliari supporters.

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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who made his own stand of defiance after scoring in the 5-1 victory in Podgorica, branded criticism of Kean laughable.

The 19-year-old faced down his taunters from a section of home supporters when celebrating a late second goal in front of them, his arms spread wide.

Parker, 55, came through the ranks at Fulham in the early 1980s, before going on to play for QPR and in 1991 moved to Manchester United, where he won the Premier League twice.

Paul Parker twice won the Premier League with Manchester United (Malcolm Croft/PA)

Paul Parker twice won the Premier League with Manchester United (Malcolm Croft/PA)

The right-back, part of England’s side which reached the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, believes current players should look to follow the examples of previous generations when it comes to tackling discrimination head on.

“No, I don’t agree with that,” Parker told Press Association Sport when asked whether players should walk off if subjected to racist abuse.

“There have been too many good men, even before my time, who have stood their ground and were virtually saying to themselves: ‘why should I give you what you want? That would mean you have won’. You should never let a minority win any battle.

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“If players start walking off pitches, a black player or any player in the world walks off for religious reasons, whatever is going on, then what is going to happen next?

“If things aren’t going right in the game, someone is going to turn around and say: ‘oh, I got racial abuse’ and walk off the pitch, influencing the game. That is the problem we would be leading too.”

Parker, who is set to take on the challenge of the Football to Amsterdam 2019 cycle ride in aid of Prostate Cancer UK during June, feels players can do all the talking they need on the pitch.

“At the end of the day, the best way to affect those people is to stand out there and do your job even better,” he said.

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“Celebrate, enjoy it, because that is what you are out there for. Give the majority what they want to see – you giving your best for your team, not you deciding you are not happy and walking off.

“It is a minefield if that happens, and there have been too many good people – the late Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson, West Ham’s Ade Coker, Clyde Best, what they had to go though… think about John Barnes, what he had to endure when he first arrived here.

“I have travelled around (as a player), it was horrendous, but it never crossed my mind to walk off the pitch.

“My whole thing was ‘you stay on the pitch, you win the game’, then you find those ignorant people slide away, or they have to put their hands up and apologise in certain ways, because they realise they haven’t won that battle.

“In life majority rules, so why are we allowing minorities to win that battle, for people to just throw down their tools and say they are not going to work any more?”

Paul Parker, Prostate Cancer UK ambassador (PA)

Former England defender Paul Parker is set to saddle up for Football to Amsterdam 2019 (Prostate Cancer UK Handout/PA)

Parker is set to saddle up for the charity event from June 7-9 to help raise funds for research into prostate cancer – if he can find a suitable bike to ride, having been offered one to borrow from former England striker Les Ferdinand.

“Obviously I would have to maybe pull the saddle down a bit from Les, but at this moment, I would take anything,” Parker said.

Paul Parker is joining the Football to Amsterdam 2019 (opens in new tab) ride for Prostate Cancer UK. Click here (opens in new tab) to sponsor him as one of 350 riders tackling 145 miles from June 7-9

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