June 15, 2020 / 3:47 AM / 23 days ago

Football must take 'giant leap' to fight racism - Neville

FILE PHOTO: Football Soccer - England Training - Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground, Hertfordshire - 28/3/16 England coach Gary Neville during training Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic

(Reuters) - Former England international Gary Neville says words are not enough to combat racism in football and that he is “ashamed” he did not fight harder against it when he was a player.

The former Manchester United defender made the comments in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“Forget campaigns. Forget words. It has to be actions,” Neville said ahead of the Premier League’s restart on Wednesday following a three-month stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to take a giant leap rather than minute steps each year.

“I’m not going to hide away from it. We need education, we need protocols and processes in place which basically reverse what’s been happening in our country.”

Neville said he should have fought harder against racism during his playing days.

“The reality is we put racial abuse in the same category as the abuse we would receive for playing for Manchester United or England. We didn’t think. We just got on with it,” the 45-year-old said.

“It’s appalling and I’m ashamed of the fact for someone who ... fought for players’ rights at nearly every level, I didn’t fight hard enough on this.”

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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