'Players should rise above racist abuse'
Former England international Carlton Palmer believes players subject to racial abuse from fans should be able to laugh it off.
The issue of racism in football has long been one of the sport’s major problems, with a number of high-profile incidents taking place in recent years.
Schalke midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng walked off the pitch while playing for AC Milan in a friendly against Pro Patria in January 2013 following racial taunts from supporters, while England’s Danny Rose was subject to monkey chants from Serbia fans during an U21 clash in October 2012.
However, Palmer, who played for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, is adamant that players should rise above such treatment.
“If you want to intimidate me about my colour, which has happened loads of times, then I’ll just laugh it off,” he told talkSPORT. “If I’m stupid enough to get involved with you because you’re calling me a black something or other, I’ll just laugh it off.
“I played at West Ham and they were chucking bananas on the pitch, I ate the bananas. I love them! It doesn’t worry me. I’m not interested in that. I’m just interested in winning the football game.
“If someone is on a football pitch or in a boxing ring or whatever, you’re in there to win. It is part and parcel of it [to try to put someone off]. And you have to grow up and accept that. And anybody who thinks different is lying. It’s been going on for years.
“When you say it’s not right, if I can intimidate you by saying something that puts you off your game, why isn’t that right?
“That’s not racism. Not for me, it’s not. It depends on the context. Whenever it’s happened to me, and I’m not mentioning any names, I never thought that person was a racist. If they can get me sent off because I react, that’s different. On the pitch, the laws are different.
“Some people for me, and some players, some black players, have used this as an excuse. And then the ones that have actually been racially abused, those incidents are not being dealt with.”
FIFA president Sepp Blatter's belief that on-pitch racism can be settled with a handshake at the end of the game has caused much controversy.
Palmer, though, feels the Swiss is right, saying: “I agree with Blatter 100 percent. At the end of the day it’s an easy excuse for colour. Just be the best you can be. And that’s what I’ve done -- 750 league games, 18 England caps. You can call me black -- it doesn’t matter to me.”