Urgent action is being called for on multiple levels after an alleged racist incident took place during a Premier League football game on Sunday.
It is believed that Antonio Rüdiger was subject to racist abuse while playing in Chelsea’s match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Three warnings about the suspected racism were read out over the stadium’s PA system saying “Racist behaviour from spectators is interfering with the game”, and also “Please remember that there is no room for racism in football” however, the game was completed. The incident came following various recent incidents of racism or suspected racism both in the UK and across the world in football and wider society.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has said it is “dismayed and disgusted” at claims of racist abuse and has called on the government to launch an inquiry.
However, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has claimed that the Premier League and PFA need to do more in tackling racism. Speaking on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday, Neville said;
“The Premier League have got to stand up. They hide behind the FA on this issue. They hide behind the FA, in my opinion. They push disciplinary issues onto the FA.”
“The PFA have to act because ultimately the PFA are there to protect football players in this country and football players in this country are being abused while doing their jobs. That is unacceptable.
“The PFA might have to take it into their own hands if the Premier League and the FA don’t act and stop pointing the finger at the Bulgarian FA and the Spanish FA because we have to deal with our own ship.”
The pundit also talked of a wider problem of racism in society, pointing to events and discussions surrounding the recent UK general election;
“I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have just had an election in this country where both main parties and the leaders of both main parties are accused constantly over the last month of fuelling racism and accepting racism within their parties.
“If it is accepted at the highest office in the country, we are not talking about it at a micro level we are talking about it at an absolutely enormous level, the highest office in the country.”
Gary Neville was applauded on social media for his comments, but a row erupted after the host of Super Sunday Dave Jones issued a disclaimer saying “I am compelled to say they are the opinions of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.” The interruption immediately received heavy criticism on social media, with many suspecting that Sky Sports told Dave Jones to read a disclaimer.
Following the game, Jones tweeted;
“I’m so sorry to have spoiled what was such an important discussion on racism tonight.
“I had to intervene when Gary suggested the two main political parties were to blame — I didn’t make that clear enough. For that I apologise unreservedly.”
After the tweet, Sky Sports tweeted “Sky Sports is against racism of all forms in any walk of life and will continue to give a platform to eradicating this vile behaviour from society.”
The government’s Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport is yet to comment on the call for a government inquiry, however, Sports Minister Nigel Adams confirmed he would be meeting Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.
The incident on Sunday also came after British rapper Stormzy recently discussed racism in an Italian newspaper. The grime artist was asked by the newspaper La Repubblica if Britain was still racist, and he replied “definitely, 100%” even if such racism was “hidden”. The artist also said that the situation has worsened while Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister because his comments have emboldened people with racist views. The comments resulted in a mixed reaction, though many applauded the artist for using his platform to speak out. However, a row erupted after some media headlines relating to the interview were misleading, including by suggesting that Stormzy had said 100% of the UK was racist. ITV has issued an apologised on Twitter in relation to the incident.
There is no place for racism of any kind in football or anywhere in society.
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