Players should be “empowered” to walk off the pitch in response to racist abuse, according to Gary Neville.
Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger reported being targeted by monkey chants during the second half of Sunday’s 2-0 win at Tottenham.
Former England defender Neville said: “Maybe we have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it is happening.
“We have a racism problem in the Premier League in England.”
Following Rudiger’s complaints, there were three stadium announcements saying that “racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game” in response to that one incident.
Uefa’s three-step protocol for racial abuse ends with the officials abandoning a match if announcements inside a stadium do not stop the problem.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has subsequently called for a government inquiry into racism in football.
Neville played in the England team with fellow Sky Sports pundit Ashley Cole who, along with Shaun Wright-Phillips, was subjected to racist abuse during a 2004 friendly against Spain in Madrid.
He told Sky Sports: “Ashley was abused at the Bernebeu in a game I played in and probably did not give it a moment’s thought really.
“We are thinking it as football players, then ultimate you hear about it when there is a media storm, with calls for UEFA, for FIFA, for the Spanish authorities to deal with it… similarly recently with Bulgaria [against England].
“I did not walk off the pitch when Ashley was abused 15 years ago, and you might argue that now it’s OK for me to sit here in my ivory tower of a commentary box and suggest that players should walk off the pitch.
“Ultimately I would be as ashamed of myself for not doing 15 years ago as I would be absolutely proud of players for doing it now, to empower them to think… do something about it and take it into your own hands.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has said he would be “100 per cent behind” his players if they wanted to walk off the pitch amid any future incidents.
“In terms of walking off the pitch, it would depend what the players were feeling and saying,” he said.
“But I would be, absolutely, 100% behind them and I’m sure it would be a group decision. But we’re not there yet, so it’s hypothetical to a degree.
“Of course I’ll support Toni as we would support any of our players, or in fact any opposition players. Wherever this happens it needs to be dealt with.
“If it happened and it’s fact, then punishment is needed and it needs to be strong.”