Spurs-Chelsea clash marred by racism
Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger was reported targeted with monkey noises during a London derby at Tottenham yesterday, forcing the stadium announcer to issue three warnings in an unprecedented move at an English Premier League (EPL) game.
The announcements were made at 10-minute intervals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, starting in the 63rd minute of the game with Chelsea leading 2-0.
“Racist behaviour from spectators is interfering with the game,” the announcer said in a warning to fans. “Please remember that racism has no place in football.”
The announcement was ordered after referee Anthony Taylor implemented a procedure initially formed by FIFA to deal with discrimination in games. It came after he was informed by Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta that Rüdiger had faced the racist abuse.
“We are very concerned and very aware of this behaviour and all together we need to stop it,” Azpilicueta said.
The reported abuse came after Rüdiger was kicked in the chest by Tottenham forward Son Heung-min, who was sent off as a result.
Rüdiger, who is black, was seen putting his hands under his armpits – seemingly mimicking a monkey gesture – in the 63rd minute.
Repeated announcements warning against racism in stadiums would typically indicate multiple incidents and require the players to be taken off. But Tottenham and the Premier League said there had been only one reported incident.
“We are now conducting a thorough investigation which will include liaising with Chelsea and their players for their observations,” Tottenham said in a 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.”
If the English Football Association followed sanctions used by UEFA and FIFA, part of Tottenham’s stadium could be ordered to be closed to fans as a punishment.
“I hate racism in society, I hate racism in football,” Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said. “I’m disappointed that things like that still can happen, but the referee stopped the game, he spoke with the players, spoke with the captains, spoke with the coaches.
“I was losing, I don’t want the game to be stopped, but immediately when I knew the reason why the game was stopped, I obviously understood and accepted it. I think, also, the club is a very proud club in this kind of situation and the club also, internally, will try to delete it.”
The Manchester derby two weeks ago was also marred by a high-profile incident of racism when United players were targeted with abuse at City.
Yesterday’s EPL results:
Watford 2-0 Man United
Tottenham 0-2 Chelsea