STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Soccer racism is 'vile' and must be confronted, UK Prime Minister's office says

CNN Sport contributor Darren Lewis speaks about the racist incidents that plague the Premier League and English football and the weak responses authorities have to these acts.

Posted: Dec 23, 2019 4:30 PM
Updated: Dec 23, 2019 4:30 PM

The British government is ready to intervene if soccer authorities fail to stamp out "vile" racist behavior at matches, a spokesman for the UK Prime Minister said Monday.

Sports authorities needed to crack down harder on the issue, Downing Street said, a day after Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger indicated he heard monkey chants from the crowd in a game at Tottenham Hotspur.

The alleged incident occurred in the second half of Chelsea's 2-0 win against Tottenham. Rudiger, a German international, told his club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who then alerted referee Anthony Taylor. Three announcements warning fans against racist behavior were made before the end of the match.

Tottenham said it had launched an investigation.

It was the latest unsavory act to mar European soccer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said the government wouldn't rule out taking "further steps" depending on how the sport's authorities deal with the issue as the season progresses.

"Racism of any kind has no place in football or anywhere else and we must confront this vile behavior," the Downing Street spokesman said at Monday's daily briefing with UK political journalists. "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 (Football Association), Premier League and English Football League have significantly stepped up their efforts, but we expect them to continue to prioritize 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."

Sports minister Nigel Adams said Sunday it was "depressing to see today events." He was due to meet with Tottenham's directors later Monday.

The Professional Footballers' Association threw its support behind Rudiger and called for a government inquiry "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."

Rudiger calls for offenders to be punished

Rudiger urged people to discuss the issue of racism in football. "If not, it will be forgotten again in a couple of days (as always)," he said on Twitter.

"I don't want to involve Tottenham as an entire club into this situation as I know that just a couple of idiots were the offenders," he added in a series of tweets. "I got a lot of supportive messages on social media from Spurs fans as well in the last hours -- thank you a lot for this."

"I really hope that the offenders will be found and punished soon, and in such a modern football ground like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with dozens of TV and security cameras, it must be possible to find and subsequently punish them."

"If not, then there must have been witnesses in the stadium who saw and heard the incident. It's just such a shame that racism still exists in 2019. When will this nonsense stop?"

The Premier League did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho was asked about the issue in a press conference Monday -- a pre-scheduled briefing ahead of his team's game against Brighton at home on Thursday -- and said that racism in football was a reflection of a wider problem in society.

"I can repeat exactly that, I am totally, totally against racism in society and obviously against racism in my football world," Mourinho said. "I feel very sorry every time something happened and I will always support every decision the authorities can make. Society needs help.

"And then football is a micro-society. Do we need help? Yes. But society needs help. We need to eradicate any form of discrimination and this case we are talking about racism."

Other incidents in England

There have been a series of incidents in the Premier League recently. In early December, a 41-year-old man was arrested and bailed after allegedly racially abusing Manchester United's Brazilian midfielder Fred and English attacker Jesse Lingard. On the same weekend a 13-year-old Burnley supporter was thrown out of Tottenham's stadium for an alleged racist gesture aimed at South Korea international Son Heung-Min. Police launched an investigation.

Incidents have also been widespread across Europe in league games and European championship qualifying matches. Last week, an Italian football anti-racism initiative featuring paintings of monkeys received widespread criticism, prompting the Serie A league to apologize.

Former England defender Gary Neville, now a pundit on Sky Sports, accused Johnson of fueling racism in the aftermath of the incident in the Manchester derby and took aim at political parties again Sunday.

Visit our football page for more news and videos

It may be time for players to walk off the pitch when racist incidents occur, he said. "Maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it is happening," Neville said on Sky.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Few Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather