English football must carry the fight on racism, says Norwich City chief Chris Hughton
Norwich City boss Chris Hughton believes English football must lead the fight against racism after fresh incidents marred European games involving Chelsea and Tottenham this week.
Spurs and England striker Jermain Defoe was allegedly subjected to racist chanting in Tottenham's Europa League goalless draw against Italian club Lazio at White Hart Lane. on Thursday.
The unsavoury episode came 24 hours after Chelsea's Jon Obi Mikel closed his personal Twitter account after being racially abused following his part in Juventus' equaliser in Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw at Stamford Bridge. Hughton insists the domestic game should never get complacent, despite making huge strides in tackling racism over the past three decades.
'I think it is something we have to continue to be very conscious of,' he said. 'Fortunately for us, particularly with the 'Kick it Out' campaign and the 'Show Racism the Red Card' campaign the game has changed dramatically.
'The chants that we would have heard in the 1970s and early 1980s don't happen these days. There certainly are and always will be isolated incidents, but the English and British game has very much cleaned up its act. We have to be conscious and if ever there was a reminder we can't slip back into those bad old days then it is what happens on the continent occasionally. It is up to the powers-that-be to act.'
Uefa yesterday announced they had opened proceedings against Lazio for the 'improper conduct of their supporters' and Hughton believes it is vital European football's governing body remain vigilant.
'I think that the Uefa delegates being at the game gives them a wonderful opportunity to do something,' he said. 'I go back to what I said before, we have worked very hard in this country.
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'It is something that seems to be heard abroad and needs to be dealt with and eradicated. In the early period of the 1980s and 1970s there were always incidents when black players were going to be targeted. I think we have worked as a sport to eliminate that. The campaigns have worked with the appropriate bodies in this country and we have to make sure we still learn the lessons of what is happening elsewhere.'