Gary Neville spoke eloquently about racism in football and society in the aftermath of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Tottenham.
Sunday’s game was marred by alleged racist abuse from a section of the Tottenham support, reported by Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.
Referee Anthony Taylor halted the match and an announcement was made in an attempt to get the abuse to stop.
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Rudiger, as well as managers Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard, all discussed the matter after the game, much as Neville did for Sky Sports.
“We are talking about a micro-level with an individual behind the goal but it is far deeper than that,” he said. “Ultimately, Ashley (Cole, fellow pundit) was abused in the Bernabeu 15 years ago in a game I played in and I probably didn’t give it a moment’s thought in the dressing room really.
“We are thinking about it as football players. You are sat there in the changing room and then you hear there is a media storm. The English media are calling for FIFA, UEFA and the Spanish authorities to deal with it. Similarly with Bulgaria recently.
“But we have a racism problem in the Premier League in England.
“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.
“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.
“We have seen an issue today that we might say is down to one particular person but it is a far bigger issue than that and there has to be something that happens quickly.
“We maybe have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it’s happening because that’s the only way I can see it changing.
“I didn’t walk off the pitch when Ashley was abused 15 years ago and people might say it’s OK to sit in my ivory tower of a commentary box and tell players to walk off the pitch but ultimately I am ashamed of myself for not doing it 15 years ago and I would be absolutely proud of players now if they did something about it and took it into their own hands.
“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.”
“Ultimately, I accepted it, because I was in the changing room when players got racially abused for maybe 10 years. But l wasn’t offended by it at the time. It was almost as if ‘no, we are football players and we concentrate on football’. But when you get older, you get wiser and you see the issues in society and you see that football can be a driver for change and it is not being.
“I have no faith in politicians to do anything. But football can be a driver for change, it can make a difference. It has proven it can make a difference. However, it is not doing because it is not taking the issue seriously.”