SUNDERLAND stars Fraizer Campbell and David Meyler were on the ball to support a campaign to combat racism.
The pair were on hand to give their backing to the Show Racism the Red Card event at the Stadium of Light.
Pupils from schools across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham took part in workshops and a question-and-answer session with ex-Manchester United striker Fraizer, 24, and Irish-born midfielder David, 22.
English football was recently rocked by allegations that England skipper John Terry racially abused former Black Cats defender Anton Ferdinand.
The FA and police are investigating the claims, reported by the QPR player after a match against Chelsea last month.
But the Sunderland AFC pair maintain the war against racism in football was being won.
“I think I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never been racially abused,” Fraizer told the audience.
“I remember playing before hostile crowds, but it was not about the colour of my skin.”
David, from Cork, said: “I’ve never had first-hand experience of racial abuse, but I’ve seen it on the TV in places like Italy.
“It is wrong in every way. There is no excuse for it, and we need to kick it out of football.”
The youngsters also watched Show Racism the Red Card’s main anti-racism educational film, featuring a host of international stars, including Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Didier Drogba.
The players describe their own experiences of racism and offer advice on how to fight it, on and off the pitch.
Craig Bankhead, North East Education Manager with Show Racism the Red Card, said: “Coming to the Stadium of Light is always one of the highlights of our year and we were really pleased to be in Sunderland once again.
“Sunderland City Council was the first local authority to support our anti-racism education work in schools in the region.
“The Show Racism the Red Card campaign focuses on tackling racism in society and delivers anti-racism workshops to around 13,000 young people throughout the North East every year.
“Using role models such as football players to get a positive message across is a really effective way of educating young people.”
Everyone who attended the event received a Show Racism the Red Card goody bag, which included a Sunderland AFC poster signed by the panel.