Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Tottenham was overshadowed by the latest incident of alleged racism in the Premier League, with play halted and fans warned of their behaviour by a stadium announcer during Sunday’s match
Referee Anthony Taylor reported an allegation of racist abuse made against Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger in the second half of the fixture.
The defender appeared to tell Cesar Azpilicueta that he had heard or seen monkey gestures after an object was thrown onto the pitch. Taylor was then informed and play halted before he headed over to the touchline.
As well as the fourth official, Taylor spoke to both Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard before the match continued. Soon after, a stadium announcement said “racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game”, which is in line with recently approved anti-racism protocols in the Premier League.
The stadium tannoy made two further announcements regarding the initial incident, with the third coming in injury time. According to the protocol, the game should have been abandoned at this point.
Azpilicueta was asked after the match what happened when Rudiger came to him to report the abuse.
“We have meetings with the Premier League before every game and we have been told to report straight away to the referee if any incident of racism happens,” he told Sky Sports.
“Toni (Rudiger) came to me and told me he heard some racist songs toward him, so I reported to the ref immediately and left it to the ref to do his job.
“We are very concerned and very aware of this behaviour and we need to stop it. Now I hope everything gets clear and we eradicate it as soon as possible.
“It’s an issue not only in football but in life and all together we need to work towards the eradication of the problem.”
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said: “I saw the referee follow the protocol. He came to Andre Marriner (the fourth official), he came to me and (Chelsea manager) Frank Lampard and told us what was happening.”
Speaking on Sky Sports, former England defender Gary Neville immediately questioned what was being done to eradicate racism in the English game, having previously criticised the authorities’ handling of the issue.
“We demand Uefa crackdown on the Bulgarian FA, but what are we going to do here, to crack down on our game?” asked Neville.
Earlier this month, Manchester United players reported being racially abused during the derby against Manchester City, in which both Fred and Jesse Lingard appeared to be targeted, while City forward Raheem Sterling was a victim of racist abuse last season during the side’s victory at Chelsea.
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