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09th Dec 2018

Rio Ferdinand urges footballers to stage NFL-style protest after Sterling abuse

Rio Ferdinand has suggested that footballers could stage a protest in the face of racism as many NFL players have done by taking a knee

Reuben Pinder

Sterling appeared to be racially abused yesterday

Chelsea’s win over Manchester City on Saturday night was spoilt by a group of fans appearing to give Raheem Sterling a barrage of racist abuse.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “We’re aware of reports and video footage. We will investigate the matter and take the strongest possible action where necessary.”

The Met Police said: “We are aware of a video circulating online in which it is claimed racial abuse was allegedly directed at a player at a Chelsea v Manchester City game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, December 8.”

Videos that surfaced on social media showed fans appearing to shout “f***ing black c***” in Sterling’s direction after he overran the ball beyond the byline. Chelsea FC and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident.

Ian Wright, Rio Ferdinand and several other former professionals were vocal in condemning the abuse on their social media channels, with Wright suggesting “the bad old days are back!”

Rio Ferdinand took to Instagram to draw attention to the episode, writing “Are we going to continue to allow this type of racist behaviour go on??? All for kicking a ball!”

Wycombe Wanderers striker Adebayo Akinfenwa commented in response to Ferdinand’s post: “We have to put a stop to this someway.”

Ferdinand responded: “In the NFL the players took to the knee…” referencing Colin Kaeperick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem before NFL matches during his time with the San Francisco 49ers.

Kaepernick no longer has a team, but the impact of his leadership in fighting racism has been felt throughout the sport.

Ferdinand seemed to suggest that football this side of the pond could benefit from a similar protest as it would draw attention the sort of abuse that Sterling received yesterday, which is far too commonplace in the game.