Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says “racism is everywhere” following the alleged racial abuse of his forward Raheem Sterling in a game at Chelsea.
A police investigation is underway into an incident involving Sterling during City’s 2-0 Premier League loss at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
“Racism is everywhere, it’s not just in football,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.
“We have to fight to make a better future for everyone, not just in England but everywhere.”
Chelsea says they are “fully supporting” an ongoing police investigation.
The Premier League club has suspended four people from attending matches while the investigation takes place.
Colin Wing, 60, has said he is one of the fans who has been suspended but told the Daily Mail that, although he swore, he used the word ‘Manc’ rather than ‘black’.
“I’m deeply ashamed by my own behaviour,” he said. “I want to apologise unreservedly to Raheem and hope he can be a better man than I am by accepting it.”
A Chelsea statement said evidence of racist behaviour will result in “severe sanctions, including bans”.
“Chelsea Football Club finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent,” the statement continued, adding that the club “will also fully support any criminal prosecutions”.
Guardiola added: “I appreciate what Chelsea did and if it happened in my club we would do the same.”
Social media users posted a video of an incident during which Sterling was shouted at as he collected the ball from behind the goal.
England international Sterling, 24, said he “had to laugh” when he heard the remarks because he expects “no better”.
After Saturday’s match, Sterling put out a statement on Instagram in which he questioned the way the media portrays black players, prompting a debate between stakeholders in the game.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has said negative press coverage of Sterling “emboldens racist rhetoric”, adding the former Liverpool player is “often singled out”.
“Raheem is an incredible person, an incredible human being,” said Guardiola.
“In the 21st century it’s tough to understand today what happened years ago for black people. You have to protect how equal we are together and help us to be better.”
Asked if he thought Sterling faces negative treatment from the press, Guardiola said: “I don’t know. When I arrived here I spoke with him because I know he was so active on social media.
“I told him to protect your private life and keep it outside that situation. Hopefully he has done that.
“You expect it [negativity] when he’s played bad, but just for the colour of his skin? No.
“The real power in the world today is in the media, not politicians, so they have a responsibility.”
Manchester City host Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Wednesday with their place in the knockout stages already secured.
Sterling is set to figure with Guardiola saying he only has 15 players available.
“It is sad this happens still,” said City winger Leroy Sane about the alleged racial abuse of Sterling. “We are on Raheem’s side.
“He’s a strong guy, a good guy, he knows how to handle it.
“He is still focused, wants to play good football and he is focused on the game tomorrow. That’s the most important thing.”