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Chelsea star backs Ipswich team's actions after alleged racist chants

PUBLISHED: 06:15 20 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 24 April 2019

Former Chelsea player Paul Canoville  Picture: PA ARCHIVE

Former Chelsea player Paul Canoville Picture: PA ARCHIVE

PA Archive/PA Images

Chelsea's first black football player - who faced years of racist abuse from the terraces - has backed a football manager's decision for his side to walk off the pitch after allegedly receiving racist chants from the crowd.

Suffolk FA is currently investigating allegations that a racist chant was shouted at an Ipswich Wanderers under 18 player during an away clash in the county last month.

Manager Jonty Boon made the decision for his team to leave the pitch following the alleged incident which led one teenager to say he would never play the game again. The team were given free tickets to Ipswich Town's weekend match against Birmingham, and were invited to hold a 'Kick it Out' banner as the teams emerged from the tunnel.

Paul Canoville, who joined the west London club in the early 80s and suffered a torrent of racist abuse from the stands, including from his own supporters.

However, he was shocked to hear this was still happening three decades on, saying Mr Boon made the right decision to abandon the match.

“It shows that it isn't just professional game that is affected, it's goes into the grass roots too,” he said.

“Some say you shouldn't walk off the pitch because it looks like you are giving in. But if you come off you are giving a statement to the other fans.

“You show that there are some ignorant people around and it is up to the real fans to get them out.

“It also shows that you have your teammates behind you and that is the support you needed. That is what I think walking off does.

“For me to hear about this still going on 30 years after I was playing is shocking. The likes of Cyrille Regis must be shaking their heads up there thinking 'how is this still going on?'”.

Mr Boon said: “To get all the support we have had is very unexpected. We just wanted to address the situation that had happened.”

Mr Canoville said the FA could do more to stamp racism out of football, but said it was better now that players' complaints are being taken more seriously.

“It is great that now they can complain about these incidents,” he said. “We didn't have anyone to complain to - I was scared as I was seen as a loner and that wasn't good for the team.

“Players should not be frightened to come forward and make a complaint.”

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