Gary Neville accuses Boris Johnson of 'fuelling' racism in football after Man Utd incident

Gary Neville has hit out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for “fuelling” racism within the United Kingdom after Manchester City’s clash with Manchester United was overshadowed by alleged racial abuse.

One Manchester City fan appeared make monkey gestures in the direction of United players, including Fred, who was struck by an object as he went to take a second-half corner.

Footage of the incident quickly circulated on social media, with City responding with a statement to confirm they were aware of the matter.

They said: “Officials from the Club are working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries.

“The Club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play.

“The Club operates a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life.”

But addressing the incident post-match United legend Neville feels the problem is wider than football – suggesting Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party Boris Johnson has played a role in fuelling the problems with racism that he believes have engulfed the country.

The Mayor of London has previously compared Muslim women to “letter boxes” and looking like “a bank robber”, declared Islamophobia is a “natural reaction” and used the terms “picanninnies” and “watermelon smiles” to refer to African people. 

Neville’s colleague Jamie Redknapp said of the incident in the Manchester derby: “It’s a society problem though isn’t it? It’s alright saying he shouldn’t be watching a football game, the fact that’s his views and he’s walking around society with that, it’s terrible. 

“Something has to be done about it and it’s not just banning him from a football game – there’s more to it than that. Everyone has a responsibility.

“It’s a problem in the environment, where he feels he can come to a game and racially abuse young men that are playing football. It’s disgusting. It shouldn’t happen.”

And Neville said in response: “Jamie mentions about it being a societal problem and it absolutely is. 

“You’re watching the prime minister’s debate last night where a prime minister is talking about basically migration into this country, people coming into this country and having to have certain levels.

“It fuels it [racism] all the time. Essentially it’s something that has got worse in the last three years in this country, not just in football. I think Jamie’s right on that.”

Ex-United defender Neville added: “I think Raheem Sterling has been powerful on this subject now for over 12 months but there have been issues within the Manchester City dressing room this season.

“There was a horrific headline in the Corriere dello Sport relating to Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.

“We’ve seen the incident today, we’ve seen the incident at Chelsea last season.

“It is rampant across this country. We judge the Bulgarians who came in, almost like a hatchet job, those 30, 40 fans from Bulgaria who came in and were racist towards the England players in that match.

“It’s happening not just in Bulgaria, it’s happening in our country, in our league.

“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. 

“Even City can be better at dealing with it. They obviously made a statement very quickly but there have been issues this season where I don’t think they’ve adequately dealt with issues of racism. It’s a problem for everybody.

“It continues to keep coming back and back. It won’t go away until the correct punishments are handed out.

“It’s what Manchester City can do themselves, which is obviously ban the fan for life. That’s a given.

“I don’t think you deserve a badge for banning someone who’s racist. It’s a fact, you have to be banned for life. 

“It’s what the FA do, what the Premier League do, it’s what the authorities do in this country to ensure it’s actually stamped out for good. Us banning a fan for life isn’t going to stop it.”

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called for City to issue a lifetime football ban.

He explained: “I have seen it on the video with Fred and Jesse taking coins from the City fans first of all so they have to go away and then there was chanting and racist abuse towards my two players.

“City will deal with it because he shouldn’t be watching it live.

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“We need to stamp it out. We keep talking about it every single week. He should not be allowed back into a ground. Simple as that.”



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