Blair condemns racist taunts at Spain v England

16th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 November 2004, MADRID- The British prime minister Tony Blair said he was "disappointed" with the racist taunts which were directed at England players during their football match with Spain in Madrid.

18 November 2004

MADRID- The British prime minister Tony Blair said he was "disappointed" with the racist taunts which were directed at England players during their football match with Spain in Madrid.

"I am very disappointed with what happened," Blair said while taking a break from a meeting with French president Jaques Chirac.

Blair's intervention has elevated the row over the taunts directed at three black England players during England's 1-0 defeat by Spain on Wednesday. 

Earlier, Britain's sports minister Richard Caborn called on Spanish football authorities to condemn the racist chants that confronted England's black players.

"I was absolutely appalled by the reaction of the crowd and I will be writing to the Spanish sports minister to express my outrage," he said.

 "I would like to see him ask the Spanish FA to condemn the scenes we witnessed in the Bernabeu."

Caborn also praised the discipline of the England players in the face of the racist chanting which marred last night's 1-0 defeat.

Every time Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips, in particular, touched the ball, they were taunted by 'monkey chants'.

There have been suggestions that the players should have walked off, so bad was the behaviour of the Bernabeu crowd but Caborn disagreed.

He said: "I think that on that occasion, they should have stayed on. They were reasonably disciplined in that sense and I'm very proud of them. It's up to the Spanish FA, UEFA and FIFA to show they are going to take the strictest action."

Piara Powar, spokesman for British football's anti-racist organisation Kick It Out, has confirmed that the racist barracking came from all around the Bernabeu.

He said on BBC radio: "All four corners of the stadium were making monkey chants at some stage. Every time one of them got the ball, they would start."

Powar called on UEFA to punish the Spanish FA, who did not act against Spain coach Luis Aragones when he called Thierry Henry a "black s***".

He added: "I think this is where UEFA need to act. UEFA need to come in and threaten the Spanish with closure of stadiums, with a ban. The Spanish FA has clearly washed its hands of this problem so it's up to UEFA to take it out of their hands."

The former Chelsea and AC Milan defender Paul Elliott, now a prominent anti-racism campaigner, admitted he would have found it difficult not to leave the pitch if he had been playing last night.

"I was horrified, I was perplexed, it was inexcusable, it was disgusting," he said. "I'm hoping now the Spanish authorities can condemn it and UEFA and FIFA can take action."

He added: "They've got to condemn their own supporters. It started with the manager, filtered through the under-21s and into the senior level.

UEFA have got an obligation to the game. It's the same UEFA which has a 10-point plan to tackle racism and they need to send out a positive, decisive message to the world as far as racism is concerned."

The Spanish government "emphatically" condemned the racist attitude of sections of the crowd.

Sources at the Moncloa Palace, the seat of Spanish government, said their behaviour was "very sad".

A spokesman added: "The racist chants from one part of the crowd do not represent the Spanish people in any situation. It is not acceptable in sport nor in any other situation."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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