Downing Street call on football authorities to 'get tough' on racism

23 December 2019, 07:43

Antonio Rudiger reported racist chanting during the game
Antonio Rudiger reported racist chanting during the game. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The government have warned that football authorities must step up efforts to tackle racism in the game following 'racist chanting' at a Spurs vs Chelsea game.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman welcomed the inquiry but said it was clear more needed to be done within the sport to address the issue.

He said the Government would be monitoring the response of the football authorities and was ready to take further steps "if required.

"Racism of any kind has no place in football or anywhere else and we must confront this vile behaviour.

"Clearly there remains more work to be done by the football authorities in tackling this issue and we are committed to working with them on this to stamp it out.

"The FA, Premier League and English Football League have significantly stepped up their efforts, but we expect them to continue to prioritise this issue and to consult with both players and supporter groups, and we will be monitoring how the football authorities implement their plans through the season.

"We will continue working with the authorities on this, including the Professional Footballers' Association and we don't rule out taking further steps if required."

It comes after the Professional Footballer's Association called on the government to open an inquiry into claims of racist abuse at a Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

The group said in a statement that they are "dismayed and disgusted" at the allegations.

Demands for an investigation came after Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger reported racist chanting, according to his captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

Mr Azpilicueta said after the match: "Antonio came to me and said there had been racism towards him so I told the referee."

"We are disgusted and dismayed that once again, a Premier League fixture has been tainted by abuse from the stands towards players," said the representative body.

"It has become clear that football players are on the receiving end of the blatant racism that is currently rife in the UK, but they are not alone.

"The PFA stands beside every player who faces discrimination. We will continue to fight on their behalf to combat this issue for good.

"The PFA calls for a government inquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football, and immediate and urgent action."

Sports Minister Nigel Adams also confirmed he would be meeting Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

In a tweet, he said: "Depressing to see today's events at White Hart Lane.

Fans were warned three times about racist behaviour
Fans were warned three times about racist behaviour. Picture: PA

"I welcome Spurs investigation and will be speaking with the club's directors tomorrow.

"There is no place for racism or any kind of discrimination in football or anywhere else."

Tottenham Hotspur have already confirmed they will be investigating the incident, in which fans were warned three times about racist behaviour.

The club said in a statement: "We are now conducting a thorough investigation which will include liaising with Chelsea and their players for their observations. Any form of racism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadium.

"We take any such allegations extremely seriously and shall take the strongest possible action against any individual found to be behaving in such a way, including stadium bans."

The inquiry has received support from Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who said: "We don't want to see that sort of stuff.

"My understanding is there was a racist comment or gesture."

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has not yet commented on the call for a government inquiry.