Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola would consider taking his players off the field as an act of protest to racist abuse, while Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has called for matches to be temporarily halted.
England players were subjected to racist abuse in an impressive 5-1 victory over Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday, including City’s Raheem Sterling and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on his full international debut.
Guardiola insisted that society’s ills and not just football are to blame, but warned against the rise of racist incidents in recent times, including in England.
Sterling was also the subject of alleged racist abuse at Chelsea in December, while Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown at him in the North London derby against Tottenham in the same month.
Asked about the prospect of leading his side off the pitch, Guardiola said: “I would have to involve the club, the chairmen and CEOs and my captain and the team and the players, if we all together decide we can signal to do it, why not?
“The situation changes when you do something, if not it’s impossible and the situation is always the same. That is why when people like him (Sterling) or other cases express what they express it’s good for our future, for our society to do it.
“The problem is not about the football itself, it’s the society, what is happening in Europe? The extreme-right side is going there and the message they are sending to win elections, to win votes, we are not safe.
“It’s not a football problem, it’s society itself.”
– ‘Stupid people in every country’ –
Hudson-Odoi was also the subject of alleged racist abuse in Chelsea’s Europa League match at Dynamo Kiev earlier in March.
Lamenting the “stupid people” responsible for racism in football, Sarri claimed he would like to see tougher rules that allow teams to walk off at least temporarily.
“We need a rule I think, a rule for the Premier League, but for all the championships, for all of football. A rule that can permit us to stop the match.”
Former Napoli boss Sarri worked in Italy for many years where racism has been an issue.
A friendly between AC Milan and Italian lower division club Pro Patria was abandoned after players walked off because of racist chants in 2013.
Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng sparked the walk-off by picking up the match-ball midway through the first half and kicking it into the crowd.
“In every country there are some stupid people I think, so it’s a big problem,” added Sarri.
“I think that we need to do something different, probably it’s right to stop the match for 10 minutes in the first situation.”
Chelsea have offered counselling to Hudson-Odoi over both incidents, but Sarri said he has not spoken directly about the issue with the winger.
“Not for the moment, I don’t like to speak to him about this problem because unfortunately I am not able to solve it,” he said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Cardiff.
“Of course he is very young, but I think that he is really very strong.
“The character is really very strong. I saw him very well yesterday, so I think that he is strong enough.”
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