Iffy Onuora has urged the government to take the lead in tackling racism within football.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has called for a government inquiry following allegations of racist abuse towards Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger in Sunday’s win at Tottenham.
Rudiger reported being the subject of monkey chants during the second half of the 2-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, shortly after Son Heung-min had been sent off for kicking out at him.
There were three stadium announcements – the first time this has happened during a Premier League match – saying that “racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game.”
Onuora, the PFA’s equalities coach, told BBC Breakfast: “Football is the national game, and we can use football as a vehicle to look beyond football, because what is happening in football is just a manifestation of society.
“So we can start addressing some of those core issues – what’s driving it?
“That’s the starting point, otherwise we will just keep coming back to this same old thing.
It is really sad to see racism again at a football match, but I think it’s very important to talk about it in public. If not, it will be forgotten again in a couple of days (as always). (1/4)
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) December 22, 2019
“This is about how we see ourselves as a country. There are people looking at us now. We used to be famous for tolerance, inclusiveness, all those things. We are in danger of losing that.
“Our values were once about inclusiveness and positivity and we are in danger of losing this, and for all decent-minded people that should be something to be feared.
“We spoke about 2012, what a message we sent out with the (London) Olympics – that inclusiveness, that tolerance – and we all thought we were in a really good place. That seems a relic now, 2012. It was only eight years ago.
Following the events at today’s Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea game, we are disgusted and dismayed that once again, a Premier League fixture has been tainted by abuse from the stands towards players.
— Professional Footballers’ Association (@PFA) December 22, 2019
“We fast forward to where we are now, it seems such a long time ago. I think most people in this country still want the message that we sent out then, not the messages we are sending out now.
“All it needs is people in power, in leadership, to take control of this and to provide the leadership and support the players.
“We have got to use this as a starting point. There is a new government now, there is an opportunity for those to take the lead and really set the tone in a positive way.”
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) December 22, 2019
Among a series of tweets following the match, the PFA posted: “Now more than ever we must unite and stand strong and together to confront, challenge and eradicate racist abuse in our stadiums and in our country.
“We believe that the time has come for all governing bodies to unite collectively to end this abuse.
“The PFA calls for a government enquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football and immediate and urgent action from an All-Party Group at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to address this urgent issue.”
Tottenham have vowed to investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action against any guilty parties, with Chelsea quick to welcome their London rivals’ stance.