Belfast Telegraph

Lampard would back his players if they walk off over racism

Defender Antonio Rudiger reported being the subject of discriminatory chanting or gestures at Tottenham.

Frank Lampard will back his players’ decision if they suffer racist abuse again (Nick Potts/PA)
Frank Lampard will back his players’ decision if they suffer racist abuse again (Nick Potts/PA)

By Nick Purewal, PA

Frank Lampard has promised to back his Chelsea players if they ever ask to walk off the pitch amid any future racist abuse.

Antonio Rudiger claimed he was subjected to racist chanting during Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League derby win at Tottenham.

Referee Anthony Taylor halted play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while announcements reminded fans there is “no place for racism in the game”.

And after the match, the German asked: “When will this nonsense stop?”

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Frank Lampard, right, gestures during the win over Tottenham (Nick Potts/PA)

In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, he said: “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?”

Chelsea boss Lampard lamented the situation, admitting he would support his players walking off if subjected to a future racism storm.

“In terms of walking off the pitch, I think that has to feel right in the moment,” said Lampard.

“And until that moment comes I don’t want to guess what I would do. It would depend what the players were feeling and saying.

“But I would be absolutely, 100 per cent behind them if (they wanted to walk off), and I’m sure it would be a group decision. But we’re not there yet, so it’s hypothetical to a degree.

“All I know is that Toni Rudiger said he heard some racist chanting or comments, and I haven’t had chance for an individual conversation with Toni.

“Of course I’ll support Toni as we would support any of our players, or in fact any opposition players. Wherever this happens it needs to be dealt with.

Any form of racism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadium Tottenham statement

“If it happened and it’s fact, then punishment is needed and it needs to be strong.”

Willian’s brace handed Chelsea a stunning 2-0 win at Spurs, who had Son Heung-min sent off for kicking out at Rudiger.

Defender Rudiger complained of alleged racist abuse in the second half in north London, leaving Tottenham pledging to complete a full investigation.

“We are now conducting a thorough investigation which will include liaising with Chelsea and their players for their observations,” read a Tottenham statement.

“Any form of racism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadium. We take any such allegations extremely seriously and shall take the strongest possible action against any individual found to be behaving in such a way, including stadium bans.”

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Jose Mourinho, left, shows his frustration on the sideline (Nick Potts/PA)

The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) said it was “dismayed and disgusted” at the claims and pushed for a Government inquiry.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams confirmed he would be meeting with the club on Monday.

Tottenham boss Mourinho – who sarcastically said he hoped Rudiger “recovers quick from the broken ribs” after Son’s glancing blow – backed referee Taylor’s stance in halting the match.

“I’ve not much to say apart from it’s something that saddens me,” said Mourinho.

“I hate racism in society, I hate racism in football, I’m disappointed that things like that can still happen.

“But the referee stopped the game, spoke with the players, spoke with the coaches, spoke with the captains.

“As soon as I knew the reasons why the game was stopped I obviously understood and accepted it.”

Rudiger tweeted after the game and included the hashtags #NoToRacism and #PleaseGetSomeBasicEducation, and Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham hailed his team-mate’s response.

“He is a strong character and it showed because he is a fantastic player and overcame it,” he said.

“Everyone is doing as much as they can to make a stop for it. But there are going to be one or two people who will always remain the same.”

PA

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