'It's accepted in the highest office in the country' - Gary Neville on racism in Spurs-Chelsea clash

Antonio Rudiger was targeted by spectators during today’s Premier League match.

Gary Neville (file pic).
Gary Neville (file pic).

Updated at 00.30

GARY NEVILLE has called on the Premier League to stop hiding from its racism problem and has encouraged players to walk off the field when they experience racist abuse during matches.

The issue of racism appeared again in the English top flight clash between Tottenham and Chelsea when defender Antonio Rudiger pointed out alleged abuse coming from the crowd.

Three announcements were made over the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium public address system warning fans to end their offensive conduct.

The game was allowed to conclude, as Chelsea went on to win 2-0, but the occasion was marred by the alleged racist abuse.

After another incident this season, Neville called out UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for fuelling racism in the country.

The former Manchester United full-back reiterated on Sunday that the problem is prevalent throughout British society, but called on the authorities to stamp it out of football as soon as possible.

“We have a racism problem in the Premier League, in England, and the Premier League have got to stand up,” Neville said on Sky Sports . “They hide behind the FA, the Premier League, on this issue, they hide behind the FA, in my opinion. They push disciplinary issues to the FA. 

Yes, we heard the announcements at the end. But I said it a couple of weeks ago, we’ve just had a General Election in this country, both main parties and the leaders of both main parties [have been] accused constantly over the last month of fuelling racism and accepting racism in their parties.

“If it’s accepted in the highest office in the country, we’re not talking at a micro-level, we’re talking about it at the absolute highest office in the country.

“And it’s the same here today, we’ve seen an incident, to be fair which we could say is down to one individual person, but it’s a far bigger problem than that.

“I think there has to be something that happens quickly. I think we maybe have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it’s happening. That’s the only way I can see it happen.

Ultimately, I didn’t walk off the pitch when [fellow pundit and ex-Arsenal and Chelsea player] Ashley [Cole] was abused 15 years ago and you might argue that it’s now okay for me to sit here in my ivory tower of the commentary box and suggest players should walk off the pitch.

“But I think I would be ashamed of not doing it 15 years ago and absolutely proud of players now to empower them to think, do something about it, take it into your own hands.

“The PFA have to act because the PFA are there to protect players in this country and players in this country are receiving abuse while playing football and doing their jobs and that is unacceptable.

“The PFA have to take it into their own hands with the Premier League and FA and stop pointing the finger towards the Bulgarian FA and Spanish FA because we have to deal with our own ship here.”

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The programme’s presenter, Dave Jones, responded by distancing Sky Sports from Neville’s comments, saying: ”I am compelled to say the opinions of you, Gary Neville, are not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.”

When Neville then asked Jones if he does not agree with his comments, he replied: “Whether I do or I don’t is completely irrelevant, I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate.”

Neville then said: “Okay…That was balanced. I wasn’t accusing anyone of racism but that was pretty balanced.”

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