PFA says it would support players walking off pitch if they suffered racism

Comments from the PFA come after Romelu Lukaku told Sky Sports News that footballers need to take racism issues into their own hands
Image: Comments from the PFA come after Romelu Lukaku told Sky Sports News that footballers need to take racism issues into their own hands

The PFA has told Sky Sports News it would support any player walking off the pitch if they have suffered racist abuse and do not feel a referee is protecting them.

The comments were made in response to Sky Sports News' exclusive interview with Romelu Lukaku, who called on footballers to take more responsibility when it comes to racism.

Bobby Barnes from the PFA told Sky Sports News: "I've always held the view that officials and match organisers hold the responsibility for stopping the game.

"Having said that, if players don't feel that the referee is protecting them during a match then we would support any player in walking off the pitch if they have suffered racist abuse."

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Romelu Lukaku believes footballers need to take matters into their own hands in a bid to help tacking racism following several incidents this season

In recent months there have been a number of high-profile incidents in the Premier League involving Tammy Abraham, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba.

In December, Antonio Rudiger indicated he had faced racist abuse during Chelsea's 2-0 victory at Tottenham, but a Metropolitan Police investigation into the matter was ended due to a lack of evidence.

Peers in the House of Lords have called for tougher penalties to tackle racism in football after a spate of recent incidents.

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Partial stadium closures in English football have also been suggested as a possible punishment to combat discrimination.

Kick it Out meanwhile say that more education is needed for supporters and have called on social media companies to do more to crack down on online abuse.

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Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko says a player's decision to walk off the pitch over racist abuse is an individual one which must be respected.

Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants earlier this season in Inter Milan's 2-1 win away at Cagliari after he scored a second-half penalty.

The Belgium international's agent, Federico Pastorello, said he was "ashamed" after Corriere dello Sport's 'Black Friday' headline ran alongside pictures of Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling last month.

Following that incident, Serie A officials controversially unveiled three monkey paintings as a way of demonstrating their campaign to stamp out racism.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly, former Juventus striker Moise Kean and AC Milan's Franck Kessie have all suffered racism in Serie A over the past year.

Most recently, Italian police issued a five-year football banning order to the supporter who abused Brescia's Mario Balotelli after the forward kicked the ball towards the stands and was visibly distressed in their clash away at Hellas Verona during November last year.

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PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes says authorities need to protect players more and says he would support any player walking off when faced with racist abuse.

Speaking to Sky Sports News Lukaku said: "I think last year was a sad year for the world in general, lots of unnecessary incidents happened, especially in football where I'm really watching this happening.

"This year we have to do better and we need to take action. We need to educate people. Education is key - I'm lucky that I have been to school and I've been in a school where we had over 50 different nationalities.

"I never tried to discriminate anyone, it didn't matter - religion, race, sexuality - it didn't matter to me. If you're cool to me, I'm cool to you. That's a lesson that I will teach my son, that nobody is different, everybody is the same. You just have to respect each other. If the person doesn't like you, just don't talk to him.

"I don't think we should leave it to the federations. Holland did a great job, they did a fantastic job with all of their players. Sometimes in other countries we, as players, have to take matters into our own hands."

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