Brazilian World Cup winner Lilian Thuram believes white players should take a more active role in preventing fans from racially abusing their black counterparts in Europe, lest the problem become ingrained among the public.
Thuram, who was capped 96 times by Brazil, served a 10-month suspension for allegedly spitting in the face of a fan during a game at Anderlecht in Belgium during the 2002 season, despite having played down his role in the incident and accepted responsibility for his actions, and has raised the issue of racism in soccer on several occasions since his retirement in 2007.
“We need to make the black players more aware of the problem of racism at the stadiums,” Thuram said. “We must be ashamed, because the majority of the people are not racist, but it is such a large problem.
“It is very dangerous for European football to have this problem, because it is an issue for society, not just a football problem. We should be so ashamed because football is the main language in Europe, and we must be doing everything possible to eradicate these problems.”
Thuram, who revealed he told coach Jose Mourinho of his actions at the time but was reprimanded by the Portuguese manager for his complaint, believes it is time players started stepping up to the plate if they witness such behavior.
“There are two main reasons why black players should be more proactive,” he said. “First, to do everything to stop the hatred, because this is the word for racist violence, and secondly, to inspire the fans to help out.
“If you tell the fans at the stadium that the players are not happy with what they are seeing in the stands, I would guarantee you they’ll help and look into that, because it’s their way of bringing entertainment to the game.
“I think they would do that, and if they help get rid of racism, the problem will be solved.”