SUNDERLAND star Fraizer Campbell has spoken for the first time about the racist abuse he suffered as an up-and-coming star.
The 25-year-old, who last year sparked a police investigation after he received racist comments on Twitter, said he was just a teenager when he was targeted by opposing players ahead of a match against an Argentinian team.
The Yorkshire-born striker, who was abused along with other black players in his team, was left stunned by the comments.
In an interview with North East charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC), he said: “It was in the hotel before the match.
“You recognise some of the words that they call black people. They were giving us all that. I couldn’t believe it. I was quite young at the time, about 13. It was a bit of a shock. That was the first time I really remember a stand out incident.
“In that particular instance, we had to play them later that day and we battered them. We were all celebrating, buzzing, that we had beaten them. It was weird, because after the game they came over to us to shake our hands. It was as if it was all forgotten. It was a strange feeling. But is wasn’t just me. There were a few black lads in the team. They were saying stuff to all of them.”
Last year, Fraizer was subjected to racist abuse on Twitter after he joked “Come on Estonia! You can do it!” ahead of the Euro 2012 play-off against the Republic of Ireland.
The former Manchester United centre forward retweeted the abuse, adding “wow just seen this tweet! Disgraceful.”.
He also linked a picture of the SRtRC’s logo.
“Times have changed a lot,” said Fraizer. “It’s a lot better than it used to be, but racism is not completely dead. A long time ago it used to be a lot worse. Maybe the ideas are passed down from generation to generation. I had a great childhood. I’ve friends from different backgrounds and it makes you wise to the world. You learn about different cultures and it makes you a better person.”
Craig Bankhead, North East Education manager with SRtRC, said the charity appreciated the help and support of high-profile football players.
“The team at SRtRC is grateful to Sunderland AFC and Frazier for allowing us to conduct this interview,” he said.
“We understand that footballers have busy training schedules but, thankfully, the club and Frazier both understand the importance of the message. The campaign has utilised the role-model status of professional and ex-professional football players since it was formed in 1996.
“Young people listen to what the players have to say and this is very important for our charity.”
Meanwhile, former Black Cats defender Gary Bennett, part of SRtRC’s community education team, has called on Serbia to be kicked out of the European Under-21 Championship after Sunderland’s Danny Rose was racially abused.
Bennett praised the on-loan defender for the way he handled the abuse he received at the hands of Serbian racists on England Under-21 duty earlier this week. But he said UEFA must find a punishment that genuinely hurts Serbia in the wake of the violent scenes which marred the victory of Stuart Pearce’s men in Krusevac.
“The punishment has to be something that will hurt them, and in terms of that you have to be looking at banning the country from competitions to make an example of that,” he added.