Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Pep Guardiola says he will support Manchester City players in racism walk-off

Guardiola said fighting racism 'is a battle we have to fight it every day' following ugly scenes at Tottenham on Sunday when Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger was victim of racist abuse

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he supports the initiative of players walking off in protest if they are subjected to racist abuse. AFP
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he supports the initiative of players walking off in protest if they are subjected to racist abuse. AFP

Pep Guardiola says he will back his players if they ever feel compelled to walk off during a game in protest if they were the victims of racist abuse.

Racism reared its ugly head again at the weekend when Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger was subjected to monkey chants from sections of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to initiate the Premier League's anti-racist protocol for the first time.

Those measures could ultimately have seen players walk off the field, a stance Guardiola insisted he would support if any of his own players felt was a necessary step to take.

"Of course. I support my players, I support the initiative," Guardiola told a news conference.

"What happened, you have to battle day by day. It's not about one club or one person or anything specific that happened. I said many times, in the football world it is more in vision because every game, every week, every day, a lot of actions happen."

It emerged Monday that a Chelsea fan was arrested for allegedly racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min, who was involved in an altercation with Rudiger that eventually saw the South Korean shown a red card for kicking out at the German defender following a VAR review.

It was this incident that sparked the vile chants from sections of the Tottenham support towards Rudiger.

"It is a battle we have to fight it every day, in schools especially, in the families at home to try to make a better society in the future for the next generation," Guardiola added.

"It is a battle day-by-day. Of course, all the initiatives, it happened for the players and the federation, we are going to support."

Guardiola has been an outspoken anti-racism advocate in his time in the English game but believes the issue extends far beyond football and may never be fully defeated.

"I don't think it will be completely eradicated. We have to fight but we will need a lot of time to eradicate it," he said.

"It was a problem that's happened for decades, centuries. Now you can visualise it more because the media is closer and more up front about the problem.

"It has happened for a long time. We have to fight, again and again, especially for the little kids, in the schools. Of course, if it happens be strict to avoid these kinds of persons to avoid it happening."

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Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger subjected to racist abuse at Tottenham

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Meanwhile Guardiola, who expects to be without Sergio Aguero, David Silva and John Stones for Friday's visit to Wolves, also responded to comments from former club captain Vincent Kompany who urged City to sign his old boss to a long-term contract.

Guardiola is under contract until after the end of the 2020/21 season and has repeatedly insisted he will see out his current deal, despite reports that he has a "break" clause which would allow him to leave City following the conclusion of the current campaign.

"This season is the fourth season and one more, next season will be five because I'm trying to stay here next season too," said the Catalan, whose side sit third in the Premier League 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

"To sign a contract you have to see how it works and if I deserve it.

"We've increased our levels a lot and the expectations are higher. We'll see if we can handle it. It's not just my desire. Now we have a little break with the family over Christmas and we have time to think about the future."

Updated: December 24, 2019 10:17 AM

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