SUNDERLAND star Wes Brown has revealed how he suffered racist abuse on the football pitch as an up-and-coming player.
The defender, who joined teammate Seb Larsson in supporting the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, spoke in the wake of FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s controversial comments on the issue.
Blatter whipped up a storm on Wednesday by claiming that racism in football does not exist and that any altercations on the pitch where racist language is used could be resolved by a handshake.
The former Manchester United player and England international said: “It’s not something you realise happens when you are growing up and then, when you start playing football, you’re playing with people from different backgrounds and you get the odd shout from here and there.
“It wasn’t something I was really aware of growing up, but as soon as it happens to you, you know it is there.
“It’s not a nice feeling at all.
“You feel on your own and that there is not much you can really do about it at the time.”
As a Premier League star, he has also witnessed fellow players suffering the same abuse.
“A few years ago, it was aimed at one particular player,” he said. “It’s just disgraceful, but what can you do about it if you’re playing the games?
“You can tell the ref as they will probably hear it, but you just have to get on with it.”
Swedish international Seb, 26, maintained football remained a great unifier.
“Football is a good example of how you can bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together, working and living closer and getting along well and becoming friends,” he said.
“Hopefully, this can set an example to people in everyday lives and different jobs.
“You see it in football every day, people from all over the world and all sorts of different backgrounds.
“Once you get to know your team mates, you realise that no matter where they are from, people are quite similar.
“Wherever you come from we are all just people at the end of the day.”
NORTH East-based Show Racism the Red Card has condemned Blatter’s controversial comments.
The group has asked Blaydon MP Dave Anderson to table a motion to Parliament, requesting the football chief’s resignation, when it reconvenes on Monday.
Chief executive Ged Grebby said: “He immediately offended everyone, regardless of race, who has ever found themselves abused just for being a minority on a football pitch.
“In an era where players are still racially abused on the pitch by their opponents, where players are forced to leave football pitches just to escape the racial abuse of the fans, Mr Blatter’s comments could be no more condescending or ignorant.”