Pat Nevin on racism: ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s one or 100, reaction has to be the same’
PAT NEVIN believes zero tolerance is the only way to ultimately beat the racists infecting football stadiums.
The forthright former Chelsea winger played almost 200 games for the Blues in the 1980s, when bigotry was part of terrace culture and foreign players a rarity.
Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has called for his old club to have a zero tolerance on racist abuse after the shocking incidents over the past weekLes Gallagher – The Sun Glasgow
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But his old club has been rocked this week by two incidents, one involving alleged racist abuse plus anti-Semitic chanting aimed at rivals Tottenham.
Nevin, 55, said: “It does not matter if it is one person singing or 100. The reaction from the club has to be the same — a strong one, a zero-tolerance policy.
“If it is just a few people singing these songs and nothing happens, then it looks like it is being swept under the carpet. And that can’t be allowed to happen. Which is why I admire Chelsea’s stance.
“They have had two incidents in just a few days — but each time they have acted with great purpose and determination.
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On Thursday night Blues fans were then heard singing anti-Semitic songs aimed at rivals SpursReuters
“I am not the kind of person that refuses to allow other people their opinions. But this kind of attitude is an embarrassment to Chelsea. It is not what the club stands for and it is certainly not how the vast majority of fans feel.
“If people want to hold those kind of opinions, they should take them away from football. They don’t belong in this sphere. Football is entertainment, it is sport. It is not the kind of arena suited to extremist views. From my point of view, football is not the place to air sexist, anti- Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-anything opinions.”
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Chelsea’s final Europa League group game against Vidi on Thursday was rocked by a race row when their fans were heard singing a derogatory song about ‘Y**s’ in reference to bitter rivals Tottenham.
The club issued a strong statement to condemn what was a short-lived — but nonetheless vocal — incident in an away end in Budapest.
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It came just five days after four fans were accused of racially abusing Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge.
Nevin said: “Back in the old days, it was hundreds, sometimes thousands singing offensive songs.
Incidents like the one involving Sterling happened all the time. Of course it’s nowhere near that now. Great strides have been made.
“But that doesn’t mean we stop shouting about it whenever it occurs. We have to keep publicising every small incident of such behaviour. Keep shaming them. Keep talking about it, keep the debate going.
“In England there is excellent CCTV, good stewarding and good self-policing. All the crowds are being watched. Reporting it is easier, fans can be traced via their seat numbers and all these procedures must be followed up to keep hammering away at the problem — no matter how few people are involved.
“Maybe abroad, some people think they can get away with it because there aren’t so many cameras in the grounds.”
Former Scotland star Nevin is an ambassador for the European Football Development Network, designed to strengthen the social impact of football clubs.
Ironically, its next meeting is being held at Stamford Bridge.
Nevin said: “If I could get those Chelsea fans who sing these discriminatory songs into a room I would talk to them sensibly.
“I would ask them if they realise they are an embarrassment to the club and the overwhelming majority of their fellow fans. If they continued to hold such views, then I would explain nicely that we really don’t want them at Chelsea.”