Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho disagrees with Yaya Touré's suggestion that black players should boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia if racial abuse there continues. The Manchester City midfielder suffered racist chants in Wednesday's Champions League game away to CSKA Moscow but Mourinho, while offering sympathy, believes it would be wrong to penalise "billions" of football fans around the world in order to punish "a few thousand" bigots.
Speaking ahead of City's visit to Chelsea on Sunday, he said: "I respect his opinion, but I disagree, because the history of football was made equally by many races, and the black players have made a fantastic contribution to what football is. Go to the World Cup and it's the biggest expression of national team competitions – races and people from different parts of the globe, people from every continent. And the black players are very, very important for that.
"Who is more important? The billions of people in love with the game around the world, or a few thousand that go to football stadia and have a disgraceful behaviour in relation to the black players? If I was a black player, I would say the other billions are much more important. Let's fight the thousands but give to the billions what they want: the best football. Football without black players is not the best football."
He suggested that it was up to individual families, including parents, rather than football as a whole to combat racism, adding: "Of course I have sympathy [for Touré]. But I think the players must realise that football is a beautiful game. They must realise that a huge percentage of the people who go through football stadiums are pure and respect the differences of everybody, and football is more important than the small groups who express themselves in a negative way."
Mourinho's more immediate concern is Touré's footballing qualities, of which he said: "He's a fantastic player. He gives them everything: leadership, defensive work, attacking work, goals, set-plays, physically, experience. We are going to play our game, and let's see if that's enough."
As is sometimes the case before a big game, Mourinho was otherwise in generally subdued mood. He praised City as having "two very good teams, one playing, and another one on the bench and in the stands", but declined to discuss reported criticism of him by Cardiff's manager Malky Mackay; Sir Alex Ferguson's book, which he intends to read "in context"; or City's manager Manuel Pellegrini, his predecessor at Real Madrid.
Chelsea, who have Ashley Cole available again, approach the game in confident mood. Since being held 1-1 at Tottenham they have recorded four successive wins, scoring 14 goals, with the strikers at last among them. Samuel Eto'o broke his duck in last weekend's home game with Cardiff and Fernando Torres, although he has still not scored in the league this season, added two in the Champions League victory away to Schalke. But Chelsea have not beaten City in their last five meetings, under three different managers. Last season's three defeats included two at Wembley – in the FA Cup semi-final and the Community Shield – and the game at Stamford Bridge was a goalless draw.