• France great believes sending tackles to fourth official would prevent it happening • ‘Blocking has to be an asset. Players can do that without trouble’
Award-winning France defender Lilian Thuram has urged his fellow professionals to take a more active role in stamping out racist behaviour in football by sending tackles to the fourth official.
Thuram won the World Cup with France in 1998 and is a five-time title winner with Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille and won the Champions League with Juventus in 1996.
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Thuram said the key to stopping racist abuse in football was simply reducing it to a “minor” problem.
“It is the thought process of individual players that helps the process and we need to get the ball rolling,” he told an event organised by the anti-racism group Kick It Out.
“We need to make the game attractive in a positive way, don’t let something like racism affect the sport and take the little road, send us to the fourth official … and it won’t come back.”
Thuram also called for football’s authorities to look at the players’ movement away from the pitch when racist abuse flares up.
“It is a cultural thing, you need to bring in the state and you need to strengthen football to make it more attractive to make them (the fans) change their mind,” he said.
When racist abuse happens, I have to do all I can to stop it. That includes refereeing as well Chris Sutton
“When you stop the game, when you open the doors to give time to calm down, in some countries there’s a law where you’re supposed to call the fourth official and you can do that without trouble … blocking has to be an asset.
“Players can do that without trouble and it will help the situation.”
The former England captain Chris Sutton also called for greater player involvement in stopping racist abuse in the stands.
“The most important thing is to use our players to try and stop it in the stands,” Sutton said.
“When racist abuse happens, I have to do all I can to stop it. That includes refereeing as well.”