'Players should be able to walk off the pitch if racially abused' - Gullit

The ex-Oranje captain labelled monkey chants aimed at members of the Holland side an "embarrassment to the Polish authorities", insisting Uefa and the police should support players
Former Netherlands star Ruud Gullit has insisted that players should be allowed to leave the field of play during Euro 2012 in order to tackle racist issues straight away.

Problems with racism have threatened to overshadow the football in Poland and Ukraine, with worries building before the competition even began and numerous television programmes investigating the issue.

Now the tournament is underway it has been reported that members of the Dutch squad were subjected to monkey chants during training, while the Czech Republic's Theodor Gebre Selassie was allegedly verbally abused during his side's defeat to Russia on Friday.

Italy striker Mario Balotelli had been quoted saying that he would walk off the pitch if he heard racist chants but Uefa president Michel Platini suggested that it is down to the referee to stop the game, and players may be booked for taking matters into their own hands.

Goal.com exclusively reported that Gullit had hoped that the host nations will realise that they are showcasing themselves to the rest of the world and that the abuse suffered by the Dutch players would be a one-off.

The ex-player, who captained his nation to European success at Euro 1988, branded the chants towards the Netherlands' players as an embarrassment and firmly believes players have the right to walk off the field in order to make a statement.

"The monkey sounds that greeted the Holland team at their training session this week were an embarrassment to the Polish authorities," Gullit told the Daily Mail. "The problem of racial abuse of footballers is now on everyone's radar and it has to be dealt with.

"Uefa have given referees the power to stop a game and I am behind that. The problem needs to be tackled straight away, so players shouldn't just keep quiet and play on like in my day.

"It has been suggested by the Uefa president Michel Platini that players would be booked for leaving the field as an act of retaliation and defiance. That, in my opinion, is the wrong message.

"If a player is racially insulted, he should have the right to leave the field. I would like to think we can trust referees to take everyone off but, if the officials are not supporting the players correctly, then the individual should act. The message this would send out: 'we will not tolerate this abuse'."

The former Oranje man recalled his own playing days, when he used to ignore any racist abuse as authorities would not do anything to help. Now, he thinks in the modern day bodies such as Uefa should support the players.

"When I played, I received racial abuse but I was just one of a few black players and we weren't backed up by the authorities," Gullit explained.

"I used to ignore the abuse and felt powerless to change attitudes. My only weapon was my performances on the pitch.

"We are beyond that now though. We just have to hope that racism doesn't haunt this tournament but that, if it does, the response is strong. The players need the support of Uefa and the football authorities need the support of the police."