Former Manchester United player Gary Neville has blamed Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson for increasing incident of racism in British society and in sport.
Neville’s comments come after a spectator was accused of hurling racist abuses towards United footballer Fred at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday during the Manchester Derby, which the Red Devils won 2-1.
Speaking on television, the footballer-turned-commentator blamed it on Johnson’s spiteful narrative on immigration and said it instigated the intolerance prevalent in today’s British culture.
“You are watching the prime minister’s debate where he is talking about migration to this country and people having to have certain levels. It fuels it all the time. It has got worse over the last few years in this country and not just in football,” Neville was quoted as saying to the Sky Sports.
The incident happened in the second half of the game when the Brazilian footballer went into the sidelines and a person was seen doing “monkey chants”, the video of which has gone viral on social media. Allegedly, some objects were also thrown at him during the game.
“(The spectator) thinks he can come to a game and racially abuse someone playing football. It is disgusting. It is terrible and something has to be done. It is not just about banning him from football. Everyone has a responsibility,” Neville added.
The 44-year-old also drew comparisons with the incident caused by Bulgarian supporters during England’s UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers clash against them. Few Bulgarians had thrown racist insults to the English players.
“We always judge other countries with how they deal with racism, like you say the incident yesterday in Italy was ridiculous and horrific, but we’re poor at dealing with it ourselves,” he said.
Speaking after the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said that both Lingard and Fred were “affected” by the racist abuse and asked for the concerned person to “never be allowed into a football ground again”.
“I’ve seen the video, heard from the players. We keep talking about it every bloody week. But he’s been caught on camera. He should, in my opinion, never be allowed into a football ground again. It is unacceptable,” The Guardian quoted Solskjaer as saying.
Manchester City FC have also condemned the incident and announced that they were working with the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to identify the accused individual.
“Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening,” City said in a statement.
“Officials from the Club are working with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries,” the statement added.