Racism protocol implemented for 1st time in EPL
FIFA’s protocol for dealing with discrimination at soccer games was implemented for the first time in the Premier League on Sunday with three stadium announcements during a London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea after racist abuse was reported by Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.
The announcements came in the second half, after Rudiger was kicked in the chest by Son Heung-min in an incident that led to the 62nd-minute sending-off of Tottenham’s South Korea forward.
Rudiger, who is black, was seen putting his hands under his armpits – seemingly mimicking a monkey gesture – in the 63rd minute.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said Rudiger had told him he heard “monkey noises” toward him in the crowd, and therefore reported it to referee Anthony Taylor.
“We are very concerned and aware of this behavior,” Azpilicueta said. “All together, we need to make it stop. I hope everything gets clear and we eradicate it as soon as possible. It‘s an issue not just in football but in life.”
Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out said it was aware of “alleged racist incidents” at the game and praised the referee for following step one of FIFA’s protocol, which calls on the stadium announcer to request that spectators stop the discriminatory behavior.
Kick It Out suggested the second and third stadium announcements repeated the first stage of the protocol rather than moving onto steps two and three, which would have led initially to the suspension of the match and the players returning to the locker room for a specific period. If the discrimination continued, the third step should have been the abandonment of the match.
It was not immediately clear if there had been repeated incidents of racism.
“I saw the referee follow the protocol,” Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said. “He came to Andre Marriner (the fourth official), he came to me and (Chelsea manager) Frank Lampard and told us what was happening.”
The racist abuse overshadowed an accomplished performance by Chelsea in a 2-0 win that cemented its fourth place in the Premier League.
Earlier, Manchester United lost 2-0 at last-place Watford, with a goalkeeper howler by David De Gea – for the second weekend running – leading to the first goal at Vicarage Road.
Chelsea is four points clear of fifth-place Sheffield United, while the gap is six points to Tottenham in seventh place and seven points to United in eighth with nearly half the season gone.
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