Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand suggested that footballers in England should be inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling gesture and launch their own bid to fight back against racism after another worrying incident on Saturday.
Six days after a banana was thrown towards African Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by a Tottenham fan in last weekend’s north London derby, Raheem Sterling was abused during Manchester City’s 2-0 loss at Chelsea.
Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police are investigating an incident of alleged racist abuse aimed at Sterling which caused a storm on social media.
Twitter users highlighted a first-half incident when a supporter at Stamford Bridge appeared to mouth the phrase ‘f****** black c***’ towards Sterling.
Some big names in the world of football took to Twitter to respond to video footage of the incident.
Ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand made his views known, posting on Instagram and Twitter: ‘Are we going to continue to allow this type of racist behaviour go on??? All for kicking a ball!’
Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton was racially abused in a match against Chelsea in 2011. Blues captain John Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 after admitting using the word “black” and swearing at Anton, although he claimed he had only been repeating words he thought the then-QPR defender had accused him of saying.
Rio’s Instagram post attracted a comment from Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, who wrote: “We have to put a stop to this someway”.
Ferdinand replied: “In the NFL the players took to the knee…” He was referencing a movement spearheaded by former quarterback Kaepernick, who began a trend of kneeling during the US national anthem in protest against racism in America. Kaepernick famously explained his position: ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.”
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright also weighed in on social media, saying he is under no illusion as to what was said by the fan to Sterling. Wright said: “The bad old days are back! Chelsea, you have been shamed by this disgusting racist fan! absolutely no doubt about what he says.”
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker branded the incident “despicable” while BT Sports presenter Jake Humphrey said: “If indeed it is proved to be racist abuse then I hope it’s a lifetime ban. No place for it in this world.”
A Chelsea spokesman said: “We’re aware of reports and video footage. We will investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action where necessary.’
The Met Police said: “We are aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player at a Chelsea v Manchester City game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, December 8.
“We will review the footage to determine whether any offences have been committed.”
No arrests have been made, the Met added.
Chelsea are seeking to establish the facts of the incident.
Should any offence have been made, a life ban could be handed to the supporter or supporters responsible.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out later issued a statement, which read: “We’ve received reports from a variety of sources about an incident of alleged racist abuse at the Chelsea-Manchester City game.
“We will forward those to Chelsea and offer our support in their investigation.
“Yet another great day of football damaged by prejudice.”