Sky Sports host criticised for interrupting Gary Neville after he blamed politicians for fueling racism

Greg Evans
Monday 23 December 2019 08:30
sport

The Sunday before Christmas really shouldn't be a manic affair full of finger-pointing, chest-thumping, and bile, but the UK found itself embroiled in not one but two accusations of racism.

Firstly, musician Stormzy was attacked on social media after a quote he gave during an interview was misinterpreted as saying that everyone in the UK was '100 per cent racist', rather than Britain '100 per cent' has a problem with racism, which is more along the lines of what he said.

Later on the same day, football fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium reportedly made racist gestures at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger after he was involved in an incident with Tottenham's Son Heung-Min, which led to the latter being sent off.

Announcements were made in the stadium condemning the racism and referee Anthony Taylor also briefly suspended the game in the second half. The aftermath has seen the Professional Footballers Association call for a government inquiry into the situation, while Tottenham has confirmed that they will be take the strongest possible action against the perpetrators.

Speaking after the match, former player-turned-Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville spoke strongly against the racism and claimed that British politicians should shoulder some of the blame for the resurgence of racism in this country. Just a few weeks after accusing Boris Johnson of using racist language, Nevile said:

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have just had an 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 is accepted within the highest office in the country, we are not talking about it at a micro level, we are talking about an absolutely enormous level. Maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it is happening. That is the only way I can see it happening.

Neville then went on to mention an incident involving Ashley Cole, who was also in the studio, when he suffered racist abuse while playing for England in Spain and added that players should now be empowered to walk off the pitch rather than have to play on and take the abuse.

Ashley was abused at the Bernabeu in a game I played in and probably did not give it a moment's thought really. We are thinking it as football players, then ultimately you hear about it when there is a media storm, with calls for Uefa, for Fifa, for the Spanish authorities to deal with it... similarly recently with Bulgaria.

But we have a racism problem in the Premier League in England. And the Premier League have to step up, they hide behind the FA on this issue. Maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it is happening. That is the only way I can see it happening.

Neville's passionate speech saw the former Manchester United defender earn a lot of praise on social media for speaking out so strongly against racism and being bold enough to claim that people in the highest office should bear some responsibility.

However, what followed immediately afterward has created a whole other debate. When Neville had stopped speaking, presenter Dave Jones intervened and said:

I am compelled to say that those are the opinions of Gary Neville and not Sky Sports. That is my duty.

Neville seemed taken aback by Jones' comment and asked him if he agreed with him to which he replied that his thoughts were irrelevant at that time adding.

I'm here to try and hold a balanced debate.

Neville fired back claiming that his argument was balanced and that he hadn't outright accused anyone of racism.

However, the intervention from Sky created a lot of blowback on social media, with many feeling that it was unnecessary and had spoiled what Neville had just said.

In response, the criticism aimed at Jones and Sky Sports the presented posted a message on Twitter outright apologised for 'spoiling' the debate and admitted that he had to intervene when Neville blamed racism on the Tory and Labour parties.

Given that Christmas is now just two days away maybe we could all give this archaic racism stuff a break for good, yeah?

More: Gary Neville brands David Cameron an 'absolute joke' after former PM urges people to vote Tory​

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