We need to get back to respect – Lampard alarmed by hate in football

After a week of headlines concerning racism and his former club Chelsea, the Derby County manager has called for a concerted effort to banish hate

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.

Chelsea issued a statement strongly condemning such behaviour and Derby County manager Lampard, speaking ahead of the weekend game against local rivals Nottingham Forest, believes the battle to eradicate racism from football must be concerted and not merely focus on standout incidents.

“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.

“But the work cannot stop there. I think in a bigger picture and there is one here – and this is not to exclude racism, racism is a part of this – but I do get disappointed with the amount of hate that goes on in the modern society and game.

“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.'”

The Premier League issued a statement on Friday cautioning fans against “excessive aggression” and “unacceptable behaviour”, and Lampard went on to explain that his experiences as a father and a spectator at youth football leave him believing there is plenty of work to be done in this regard.

“I think that is something we need to look at and that is just about decency. For me that is just about taking people at face value and respecting them,” he said. “As a parent, that is something I hold quite dear.

“I go and watch my nephew a lot and the amount of talk that comes out of parents’ mouths, in front of their children… This goes across the spectrum, back and forth, about anything.

“It’s not really a good example for their child. I am not a perfect father, far from it, but I do take that as a responsibility. I think we have to get back to basics across the board and racism is part of that.”

Lampard added: “This general thing of we can say anything about anybody and it’s okay. I don’t think it is okay, so I just think we need to get back to a bit of respect.

“I am not preaching, because I think we all make mistakes. But if we can work towards that – more than any campaign, more than anything, it is what we do at home.”

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