FIFA’s protocol for dealing with discrimination at soccer games was implemented for the first time in the Premier League on Sunday when there were three stadium announcements during a London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea, following apparent racist abuse toward Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger.
The announcements came in the second half, after Rudiger was kicked in the chest by Son Heung-min in an incident that led to the 62nd-minute sending-off of Tottenham’s South Korea forward.
Rudiger, who is black, was seen putting his hands under his armpits – seemingly mimicking a monkey gesture – in the 63rd minute.
The third announcement came in injury time, by which stage – according to the protocol – the game should have been abandoned.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said Rudiger had told him he heard “racist songs” toward him in the crowd.
“Tony came to me and told me he was listening to racist songs towards him so I reported it to the referee,” Azpilicueta said. “We are very concerned and aware of this behavior.
“All together, we need to make it stop. I hope everything gets clear and we eradicate it as soon as possible. It‘s an issue not just in football but in life.”
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According to FIFA protocol, the second step of the protocol should be an announcement leading to the suspension of the match and the players returning to the locker room for a specific period. If the discrimination continues, the third step should the abandonment of the match.
“I saw the referee follow the protocol,” Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho said. “He came to Andre Marriner (the fourth official), he came to me and (Chelsea manager) Frank Lampard and told us what was happening.”
The incidents overshadowed an accomplished performance by Chelsea in a 2-0 win that cemented its fourth place in the Premier League.
Chelsea is four points clear of fifth-place Sheffield United, while the gap is six points to Tottenham in seventh place and seven points to United in eighth with nearly half the season gone. ___
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