Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has slammed the “disgusting” abuse aimed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police launched investigations into alleged racist abuse from a section of home supporters towards Manchester City’s Sterling in last Saturday’s 2-0 win for the Blues. Chelsea subsequently suspended four people in connection with the incident.
“It was disgusting,” said Sarri, speaking at a media conference in Budapest ahead of Thursday night’s match with Vidi, in his first public pronouncements on the issue.
“I condemn any form of discrimination.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek says he would have reacted in the same way as England team-mate Sterling had he been subjected to racist abuse.
Sterling on Sunday accused newspapers of helping to “fuel racism” with the way in which they portray young black footballers.
Loftus-Cheek said: “I think he was right to say what he said. I don’t think it should be the game or anywhere.
“If it happened to me I would do the same.”
Loftus-Cheek appeared wary of prejudicing the investigations, as did Sarri.
Asked if he had experienced racist abuse, the 22-year-old added: “No, I haven’t. Off the football pitch I have, years ago, but never on the football pitch.
“When incidents do come like this we need to take a hard response on it.”
The incident overshadowed Chelsea responding from two losses in three Premier League games by beating City 2-0.
And Sarri was keen to turn his attentions to football as Chelsea seek a sixth win from six Europa League matches.
The Blues have already qualified for the last 32 top of Group L and Sarri has rested a host of first-choice players.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante are rested and have not travelled, while Mateo Kovacic, Gary Cahill and Victor Moses are injured.
Jamie Cumming, 19, and George McEachran, 18, are part of the squad, with Sarri likely to rotate his options and give opportunities to Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Cahill misses a rare chance to feature, after falling out of favour this season due to Sarri preferring players more adept with the ball at their feet. Cahill has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge in January.
Sarri said: “He’s the best of our defenders inside the box, but I have to think that our centre-backs usually play 100-110 balls in the match.”