23 Dec Lazar Cartu Announces: Sky Sports host apologises for ‘shutting down’ racism discu…
The Sky Sports host David Jones has apologised for “shutting down” discussion of an alleged racist incident that occurred during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Gary Neville was applauded for saying the Premier League needed to “stand up” to the problem. The former England player said that while critics were quick to point out racist incidents occurring abroad, “we have a racism problem in the Premier League in England and the Premier League have got to stand up, they hide behind the FA [Football Association] on this issue”.
Neville added that racism in football was mirrored in UK politics and criticised both the Conservatives and Labour for not doing enough to stamp out racism in their parties.
Jones interrupted Neville’s speech to say: “I am compelled to say, they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.”
Jones later apologised on Twitter and clarified that it was Neville’s comments about racism in politics from which he had been distancing Sky Sports.
“I’m so sorry to have spoiled what was such an important discussion on racism tonight. I had to intervene when Gary suggested the two main political parties were to blame – I didn’t make that clear enough. For that I apologise unreservedly,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I would never purposefully shut down a discussion on racism. I’ve worked for Sky for over 20 years and know they share my view that racism of any kind should not be tolerated. That is not a debate. And that’s why I’m so very disappointed and sorry tonight.”
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: “We’ve just had a general election in this country where both main parties, and the leaders of both main parties, are accused, constantly over the last month, of fuelling racism and accepting racism within their parties. If it’s accepted in the highest office in the country, we’re not talking about it at a micro level, we are talking about it at … the highest office in the country.”
After Jones interrupted, Neville asked: “Do you not agree with me, Dave?” to which Jones replied: “Whether I do or I don’t is completely irrelevant, I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate.”
Neville countered: “That was balanced.”
Neville’s comments were praised by former footballers, including Ian Wright, who said his remarks were “spot on”, Gary Lineker, who applauded him, saying “well said” and David Preece, who tweeted: “Gary Neville gets this dead right, but again the caveat of balance is added right at the end, as if to isolate his opinion. We don’t need balance in cases of racism.”
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, tweeted his support of Neville’s comments, saying he agreed fully. “The Premier League and FA have to start taking more effective action against homegrown racism at matches in this country. We thought we had largely eradicated this scourge but there have been too many new incidences taking place in recent games.”
He did not comment on Neville’s remarks about the accusations of racism within the Labour party.
The former rugby player Brian Moore wrote: “Can’t understand the Sky presenter … saying he is there ‘to try and hold a balanced debate’ when they are discussing racist abuse towards football players. Are there two sides to this?”
The discussion followed an incident when Rüdiger appeared to indicate a supporter had shouted a monkey chant at him, and an announcement over the PA system at the stadium told the crowd that “racist behaviour is interfering with the game”.