Gary Neville's passionate speech about racism in football ruined by Sky Sports' interjection

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Chelsea’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur was marred by an incident of racist abuse in the second half.

Play was stopped after an object was thrown on to the pitch and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger claimed he heard monkey noises from the crowd.

An announcement inside Tottenham’s stadium warned that “racist behaviour is interfering with the game” and the message was heard two more times before full-time.

It’s the latest in a string of racist incidents to affect football matches in England.

Racism has been rife from the Premier League down to non-league in 2019 and it’s a scary situation that English football is facing.

The problem was discussed on Sky Sports, with pundit Gary Neville calling for the Premier League to stop hiding behind the FA on the issue.

Neville recently called out UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for enabling racism in England and he reiterated that point once again on Sunday.

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"We have a racism problem in the Premier League, in England, and the Premier League have got to stand up," Neville said.

"They hide behind the FA, the Premier League, on this issue, they hide behind the FA, in my opinion. They push disciplinary issues to the FA. 

"Yes, we heard the announcements at the end. But I said it a couple of weeks ago, we’ve just had a General Election in this country, both main parties and the leaders of both main parties [have been] accused constantly over the last month of fuelling racism and accepting racism in their parties.

"If it’s accepted in the highest office in the country, we’re not talking at a micro-level, we’re talking about it at the absolute highest office in the country.

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"And it’s the same here today, we’ve seen an incident, to be fair which we could say is down to one individual person, but it’s a far bigger problem than that.

"I think there has to be something that happens quickly. I think we maybe have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it’s happening. That’s the only way I can see it happen.

"Ultimately, I didn’t walk off the pitch when [fellow pundit] Ashley [Cole] was abused 15 years ago and you might argue that it’s now okay for me to sit here in my ivory tower of the commentary box and suggest players should walk off the pitch.

"But I think I would be ashamed of not doing it 15 years ago and absolutely proud of players now to empower them to think, do something about it, take it into your own hands.

"The PFA have to act because the PFA are there to protect players in this country and players in this country are receiving abuse while playing football and doing their jobs and that is unacceptable.

"The PFA have to take it into their own hands with the Premier League and FA and stop pointing the finger towards the Bulgarian FA and Spanish FA because we have to deal with our own ship here."

However, Neville's speech was ruined somewhat by the interjection of presenter David Jones.

"I am compelled to say the opinions of you, Gary Neville, are not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty," Jones said.

When Neville asked Jones if he didn't agree with his comments, the presenter replied: "Whether I do or I don’t is completely irrelevant, I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate."

Jones' interjection upset many on Twitter who felt it diluted a powerful moment.

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ANALYSIS

GIVEMESPORT’s Scott Wilson says:

England can no longer ignore the fact that it has a racism problem.

Whether Neville is right when he says the country’s political leaders have paved the way for it or not, football fans are now feeling emboldened to hurl racist abuse at players.

One possible way to help would be with a stronger announcement in the stadium than: “Racist behaviour is interfering with the game”.

How about telling fans that anyone found guilty of racism will be banned from football for life and prosecuted, and with a warning that the match will be abandoned if the abuse continues?

The message needs to be stronger.

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