Lilian Thuram calls for confrontation over racial abuse in football

• ‘It’s not an easy situation and not a solution,’ says Thuram • ‘All players should have to confront the problem and show strength’

Lilian Thuram has urged White players to speak out about the racial abuse they receive from other teams during matches and help the issue being raised around the international table.

Thuram, who won the World Cup with France in 1998 and became the first black player to captain a team to a major finals, has called for players from opposing teams to be educated about racial intolerance so that they can talk to their teammates. “Football is not a club. Football is part of the community,” he said. “It’s not an easy situation and not a solution. When I speak to friends in the States or Europe, or even in the Premier League, they complain. It’s not a solution. What we have to do is confront the problem and show strength.”

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Thuram fears some coaches may feel it would be difficult to discipline team-mates for racist abuse or feel that their reactions would backfire. “The individual coach has to understand that to say no to racism would not be the right thing to do,” he said. “I know that for sure. So maybe a coach might not be able to say no. But the players have to be open and ready. What can they do? They have to speak up. They have to complain to each other. They have to be courageous.”

As well as racism Thuram was also hit by racism from his own side during his time at Monaco. He said he watched with unease from the dugout as his team were called “niggers” and “cocksuckers”. “I have to say, I am not going to give up on what I am. I’m not going to be afraid. If I am going to be afraid, I won’t do it. I will do what I love doing and try and do my best,” he said.

The Frenchman, who left Monaco after a bust-up with the club owner, Eric Gerets, in 1998, also singled out Michel Platini for criticism. “When Platini, when some people in European football, their mission is to bring equality but don’t want to show that,” he said. “It’s very hard for them.”

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