Football must not return to the "bad old days" following recent high-profile racism rows, the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned yesterday, as it emerged that David Cameron is to hold a Downing Street summit to discuss the issue.
Mr Hunt said the failure of the Liverpool forward Luis Suarez to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra on Saturday, for which he later apologised, was "incredibly depressing".
While the sport had made "huge strides", he said recent events showed you could "never be complacent".
The sport's authorities and player representatives are due to attend the Downing Street meeting, which will also include Mr Hunt, later this month.
Mr Hunt told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I would say that, as a society, one of the main reasons we have made huge strides in changing attitudes to racial discrimination is because of the changes in football.
"The Prime Minister is very, very concerned to make sure that we don't go back to the bad old days but also that we are absolutely on our mettle to make sure that the football authorities and the Government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem."
Asked for his reaction to the spat between Evra and Suarez, Mr Hunt said: "It is incredibly depressing. It was very unsporting behaviour and I am sure the Football Association will look to see if any rules were broken."
He went on: "I thought the referee handled it brilliantly. It was an incredibly tense and difficult situation and Phil Dowd did a fantastic job."