FORMER Sunderland AFC star Gary Bennett has told how he suffered racist abuse, as a Premier League racism row continues to escalate.
The defender, who joined the club in 1984, was one of the first black players on Wearside and went on to represent his side in 369 games.
But nearly 30 years on from when he first pulled on the red and white stripes, the issue of race is still present in football.
Two high-profile cases are in the news, with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea defender John Terry both accused of making racist remarks.
It has been confirmed that the Crown Prosecution Service will bring charges against Terry next year.
Gary said: “We will have to wait and see what the outcome is with Terry, but it will be interesting to see what the FA decide to do.
“And if he is found guilty it will definitely affect his career.”
England captain Terry has said he would fight “tooth and nail” to prove his innocence, adding: “I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.”
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been given an eight-match ban by the Football Association after being found guilty of misconduct for using insulting words to Patrice Evra.
Gary, who scored 23 goals for Sunderland and now regularly commentates on their games, suffered racist taunts when he was a player.
He said: “It’s well documented that I experienced it but that was in the early 1980s when it was much worse. I was only the second black player to play for Sunderland.
“But it definitely highlights that there is still an issue in the game, even after all the work that has been done to combat it.”