Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has condemned the alleged racist abuse of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge as “disgusting”.
Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police launched investigations into alleged racist abuse from a section of home supporters towards Sterling in last Saturday’s 2-0 win for the Blues. Chelsea subsequently suspended four people in connection with the incident.
“It was disgusting,” said Sarri, speaking at a media conference in Budapest ahead of Thurday’s match with Vidi, in his first public pronouncements on the issue.
“I condemn any form of discrimination.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek says he would have reacted in the same way as England team-mate Sterling had he been subjected to racist abuse.
Sterling on Sunday accused newspapers of helping to “fuel racism” with the way in which they portray young black footballers.
Loftus-Cheek said: “I think he was right to say what he said. I don’t think it should be in the game or anywhere.
“Him speaking out was the right thing. If it happened to me I would do the same.
“I haven’t spoken to Raheem about it. I prefer to leave him and let him deal with it mentally himself. He’s a strong-minded person, so I think he’ll be all right.”
Loftus-Cheek appeared wary of prejudicing the investigations, as did Sarri.
“I know there’s an investigation going on right now and I know they (Chelsea) do take the hardest response, if it is racial abuse, and tackle it in the right way,” Loftus-Cheek said.
Asked if he had experienced racist abuse, the 22-year-old added: “No, I haven’t. Off the football pitch I have, years ago, but never on the football pitch.
“It doesn’t happen a lot in England, but obviously still happens. Most people don’t like this and it needs to be out the game as quick as possible.
“When incidents do come like this we need to take a hard response on it. It’s something players have talked about, especially me growing up as a black player.
“When we’ve played abroad it does happen sometimes. We’ve talked about as players how we should deal with this many times.”
The incident overshadowed Chelsea responding from two losses in three Premier League games by beating City 2-0.
And Sarri was keen to turn his attentions to football.
Chelsea play Vidi seeking a sixth win from six Europa League matches.
The Blues have already qualified for the last 32 top of Group L and Sarri has rested a host of first-choice players.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante are rested and have not travelled, while Mateo Kovacic, Gary Cahill and Victor Moses are injured.
Jamie Cumming, 19, and George McEachran, 18, are part of the squad, with Sarri likely to rotate his options and give opportunities to Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
On Ampadu, poised to play in defence, and Hudson-Odoi, who could start as a wide front man, Sarri said: “The future for both is a very important future.
“Of course they have to improve every day in every way, physically and tactically. Technically they are very good.”