MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 23 – Pep Guardiola has said he would back his players if they ever found themselves compelled to walk off during a game in protest against racist abuse.
The Manchester City manager was talking following the scenes that marred Chelsea’s 2-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur in the London derby on Sunday.
Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger reported he was subjected to racist abuse by home supporters which resulted in the Premier League’s anti-racist protocol being initiated for the first time.
Those measures could have seen players leaving the field — a stance Guardiola insisted Monday he would support should it happen in a game involving reigning English champions City.
“Of course. I support my players, I support the initiative,” Guardiola told a news conference.
– ‘Day-by-day battle’ –
“What happened, you have to battle day by day. It’s not about one club or one person or anything specific that happened. I said many times, in the football world it is more in vision because every game, every week, every day, a lot of actions happen.”
The Catalan added: “It is a battle we have to fight it every day, in schools especially, in the families at home to try to make a better society in the future for the next generation.
“It is a battle day-by-day. Of course, all the initiatives, it happened for the players and the federation, we are going to support.”
Guardiola has been an outspoken anti-racism advocate in his time in the English game but believes the issue extends far beyond football and may never be fully defeated.
“I don’t think it will be completely eradicated. We have to fight but we will need a lot of time to eradicate it,” he said.
“It was a problem that’s happened for decades, centuries. Now you can visualise it more because the media is closer and more up front about the problem.
“It has happened for a long time. We have to fight, again and again, especially for the little kids, in the schools. Of course, if it happens be strict to avoid these kinds of persons to avoid it happening.”
– Kompany endorsement –
Meanwhile Guardiola, who expects to be without Sergio Aguero, David Silva and John Stones for Friday’s visit to Wolves, also responded to comments from former club captain Vincent Kompany who urged City to sign his old boss to a long-term contract.
“If I was in a deciding position at City now, I would do everything I can to keep Pep for as long as I can. He is truly the best,” said Kompany.
“To say anyone will ever come near, it is speculating in a ludicrous way.”
Guardiola is under contract until after the end of the 2020/21 season and has repeatedly insisted he will see out his current deal, despite reports that he has a ‘break’ clause which would allow him to leave City following the conclusion of the current campaign.
“This season is the fourth season and one more, next season will be five because I’m trying to stay here next season too,” he said.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager added: “That’s a long time. I’m incredibly good here.
“To sign a contract you have to see how it works and if I deserve it,” explained Guardiola, whose side are 11 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool.
“We’ve increased our levels a lot and the expectations are higher. We’ll see if we can handle it. It’s not just my desire. Now we have a little break with the family over Christmas and we have time to think about the future.”