Frank Lampard urged people to turn towards respect and away from hate as football grapples with a damaging week of racism flashpoints.
Chelsea suspended four supporters from attending matches at Stamford Bridge and, alongside the Metropolitan Police, are conducting an investigation into whether Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling was subjected to racist abuse during last weekend’s Premier League match.
Sterling addressed the matter in a now much-discussed Instagram post, stating he expected “no better” than fans directing such comments towards him.
The England international also pointed to contrasting UK media coverage of white and black footballers – a disparity he believes “helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour”.
Lampard’s former club were again at the centre of unsavoury headlines on Thursday when a section of the travelling Chelsea supporters sang anti-Semitic songs during the UEFA Europa League game at Vidi.
“Well obviously Raheem Sterling has spoken out and he is in a much better position than me to speak out,” he said. “But of course racism has to go out of the game – as it does modern society. That is an ongoing battle.
“I think it has improved a lot since the days of growing up watching my dad’s era and actually travelling with England and playing in a lot of countries where they have got a lot more work to do.
“Some of it is social media-based, it is very plausible now to say: ‘I don’t like you because of how you look, because of your sex, because of your preferences, because of your family, because of your decisions that you made in your career.'”