Tottenham endured a day of shame against Chelsea on Sunday, with the north London club involved in a series of unsavoury incidents.
Chelsea won 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Willian scoring both goals, but the game was overshadowed by several flashpoints.
In undoubtedly the most significant incident, Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger appeared to suggest that he was racially abused by Tottenham fans.
After the game, a statement posted on Tottenham’s official website read: ‘We are now conducting a thorough investigation which will include liaising with Chelsea and their players for their observations.
‘Any form of racism is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadium.
‘We take any such allegations extremely seriously and shall take the strongest possible action against any individual found to be behaving in such a way, including stadium bans.’
Rudiger tweeted: ‘Biiiiiiig Wiiin! #NoToRacism #PleaseGetSomeBasicEducation #AlwaysBelieve #Hustle #cleansheet’.
His team-mate Willian also posted, saying: ‘I’m very happy for our team performance in the derby today, but at the same time I’m very disappointed by the manifestations of racism during the game. We cannot accept this! We are together my bro’.
An FA statement said: ‘We are aware of the incident in the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. We are working with the match officials, the clubs and the relevant authorities to fully establish the facts and take the appropriate steps.’
Anti-racism organisation Kick it Out later released a statement on Twitter.
It read: ‘We are aware of the alleged racist incidents at today’s game between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
‘We applaud the reaction of referee Anthony Taylor in following step one of the protocol and the ensuing steps taken by Tottenham Hotspur in repeating the stadium announcements.
‘We have offered our support to both of the clubs and also to Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.’
Chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, Ged Grebby, hit out at the ‘disgraceful’ incident at Tottenham and called for a swift response.
‘Racism is a massive problem in society and it’s coming back into football, but in terms of what happened, I think the protocol worked well and now we need to identify who these people were,’ Grebby said on Sky Sports News.
‘We have cameras in the ground. We need to identify was it one person, was it a group of people? We need more information about what happened.
‘I have no doubt given the player’s reaction and how animated he was and mocking the gesture himself, that it happened.
‘We need to make sure the fan or group of fans because it looked like it was a group, whoever it was we find out who they are and action is taken against them.
‘If we are to stop racism within football and within society, we need to make sure it is clamped down when we get incidents like this.’
Furthermore, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had a bottle thrown at him by Spurs fans, while Son Heung-min was sent off for raising his boot in a clash with Rudiger.
Rudiger made the accusations of racism shortly after Son’s dismissal.
While speaking to Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Rudiger made a monkey gesture to give an indication of the abuse that he seemingly claimed he received from Tottenham fans.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard insisted he would be ‘100 per cent behind’ his players if they wanted to walk off the pitch amid any future racism storm.
He said: ‘In terms of walking off the pitch, it would depend what the players were feeling and saying.
‘But I would be absolutely, 100 per cent behind them and I’m sure it would be a group decision. But we’re not there yet, so it’s hypothetical to a degree.
‘All I know is that Toni Rudiger said he heard some racist chanting or comments, and I haven’t had chance for an individual conversation with Toni.
‘Of course I’ll support Toni as we would support any of our players, or in fact any opposition players. Wherever this happens it needs to be dealt with.
‘If it happened and it’s fact, then punishment is needed and it needs to be strong.’
Commenting on the Rudiger incident, Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville said: ‘I mentioned a couple of weeks ago we had a general election where both leaders of the main parties have problems with racism in their own party so we are seeing it at a major level, it’s a far bigger problem than one individual person, maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment.’
It was after this comment that Sky Sports presenter David Jones intervened to remind viewers that ‘those are the opinions of Gary Neville and not Sky Sports’.
Neville was not best pleased at Jones’ response and said: ‘Do you not agree with them Dave?’
Jones replied: ‘Whether I do or I don’t is irrelevant. I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate.’
Having faced criticism for his intervention, Jones issued an apology after the broadcast.
He tweeted: ‘I’m so sorry to have spoiled what was such an important discussion on racism tonight. I had to intervene when Gary suggested the two main political parties were to blame – I didn’t make that clear enough. For that I apologise unreservedly.
‘I would never purposefully shut down a discussion on racism. I’ve worked for Sky for over 20 years and know they share my view that racism of any kind should not be tolerated. That is not a debate. And that’s why I’m so very disappointed and sorry tonight.’
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta explained the series of events around Rudiger’s reports of racist chanting.
He told Sky Sports: ‘We have meetings with the Premier League before every game and we have been told to report straight away to the referee if any incident of racism happens.
‘Toni came to me and told me he heard some racist songs toward him, so I reported to the ref immediately and left it to the ref to do his job.
‘We are very concerned and very aware of this behaviour and we need to stop it. Now I hope everything gets clear and we eradicate it as soon as possible. It’s an issue not only in football but in life and all together we need to work towards the eradication of the problem.’
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho expressed little knowledge of the racism incident, preferring to leave referee Anthony Taylor and his colleagues to follow the set protocol for such situations.
‘I saw nothing,’ he said. ‘I saw the referee following the protocol, I saw the referee speaking with (fourth official Andre) Marriner, I saw the referee coming to me and to Lampard and tell us what was going on, and the protocol was followed.
‘Every club is together on this situation and of course we are disappointed.’
Former England defender Ashley Cole admitted he had ‘a lot of abuse’ from the stands during his time as a player.
‘You try to block it out, but obviously he (Rudiger) has heard something,’ Cole said on Sky Sports.
‘Players keep going to the referee, but we see the same things happening.
‘These people need educating. In society it is easy to say what you want on social media, you don’t see their faces.
‘People around them need to be grassing them up, getting them thrown out and banned.’
Cole added: ‘No one knows the answer. I don’t understand how you stop it to be honest.’
Neville suggested that anti-racism campaigns won’t make a difference in tackling the issue.
He said: ‘Ultimately I accepted it, I was in dressing rooms where my team-mates got abused and at the time I thought we were footballers we accept it but as I get older I believe football can be a driver for change.
‘It can make a difference. It’s been proven to make a difference. Putting an announcement out, holding a poster won’t make a difference. I said the same when I was an England coach and Raheem Sterling was getting abused, it is happening far too often.
‘Back page headlines we are happy to point the finger at Bulgaria but it won’t be on the back page here today. The Premier League is watched by 1.5 billion people every weekend. The responsibility is on us to be the force of change.’
Cole added that Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling deserves much praise for the work that he has done in raising awareness of racism in football.
He said: ‘I think attitudes are changing in terms of doing the announcements and stuff, but they have to. But why do they have to wait for something to happen before doing the announcements?
‘That’s why I praise Raheem for coming out and saying stuff because I didn’t. I didn’t do it because I felt I didn’t have enough support. Raheem felt he didn’t have enough people on his side which I didn’t have.
‘He is fighting a lone battle, maybe a lot of black players think ‘I’m wasting my time’, Raheem has done enough now for the authorities to stamp it out. But if the Premier League or the PFA are not doing enough, they’re doing just enough to make people listen then it’s a problem and it’s never going to change.’
Neville commented on a game in 2004 when Cole was one of several England players who were racially abused in a game against Spain. The former right back, who played in that game, suggested that he should have walked off the pitch.
Neville said: ‘I was saying a couple of weeks ago we were outraged when it happens in a Bulgaria stadium, but we are not as outraged when it happens in our English stadiums. We expect UEFA to clamp down heavily on the Bulgarian FA but what are we going to do here? The Premier League, the FA, need to get a grip on our game.’
He went on to suggest that players should walk off the pitch if they are racially abused.
He said: ‘When it happens in other countries we scream for punishment, rightfully so. We should scream equally loud in this country. It’s not just about football. I say about the fans policing it but what about the players themselves taking it into their own hands.
‘It will come to the point where players will just walk off and say ‘I’m not playing’ could you blame them? No, not if they feel the authorities aren’t doing things properly. Do something that disrupts.’
A public announcement was made at the stadium, saying: ‘racist behaviour is interfering with the game’.
‘Ultimately Ashley was abused at the Bernabeu in a game I played,’ Neville explained when recounting the match in question. ‘I was sat in the dressing room and I never gave it a second thought. The English media is calling for the football authorities to deal with foreign football associations but we have to address our own problems.
‘I didn’t walk off the pitch when Ashley was abused 15 years ago and maybe it’s all well and good talking from your ivory tower but maybe I should have done that. The PFA need to act because it’s ultimately their job to protect players in their own country and they should protect the players if the football associations don’t do it.’
Graeme Souness criticised the PFA for a lack of action over racism and accused them of being more interested in TV rights deals.
He said: ‘Two weeks ago we were in Brighton for LGBT and we were talking about the PFA turning a blind eye. I remember with my old team-mate they didn’t want to help.
‘They have done a miserable job of it at times long before you boys played. So I think they have a big, big part to play, what do they do about these causes? Absolutely nothing, they’re more interested in selling TV rights and raking in the money.’
Tottenham fans were warned about racist behaviour during the game on three occasions.
The Premier League’s protocol for is repeat announcements even for just one incident of racism rather than UEFA’s three-step protocol.
Shortly after the accusations made by Rudiger, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa had a bottle thrown at him by Tottenham supporters.
The game was halted slightly following the incident, with Kepa turning around to face the Tottenham fans.
Rudiger’s accusations came after Son’s sending off. The South Korean attacker was given his marching orders following a VAR check.
The Chelsea centre back lay on the floor in agony after being caught by Son.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jeorge Bird