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Eric Dier

'I could have had a Dier moment every time I played' - Spurs star's actions understandable, claims ex-Chelsea star Elliott

11:01 PM GMT+8 09/03/2020
Eric Dier Tottenham 2019-20
The former Premier League defender knows what it is like to face abuse and he has called for empathy in the case of the Spurs midfielder

Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott has empathised with Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier after seeing him go into the crowd to confront a fan who had been arguing with his brother.

Dier has faced a mixed response from the football world after climbing up the stands at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before being pulled away by stewards following Spurs' FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Norwich City.

Spurs and the Football Association are now investigating the incident that could lead to the England international being punished.

Elliott's playing career in England, Scotland and Italy in the 1980s and 90s saw him face abuse, which included racism as one of the trailblazing black footballers of his generation.

He now sits on the FA's Inclusion Advisory Board, and he admits that he was close to a "Dier moment" himself throughout his time as a player.

"All I can say is, I have played in three different countries and I have experienced racism. I have had an Eric Dier moment in my head every time I have played," Elliott told Goal.

"I have seen banana throwing, monkey chanting, booing and your family getting abused. With Eric Dier, I can understand the human context of that because he wanted to protect his family.

"I felt exactly the same way when my family was watching me in Italy, watching me in Scotland and the ugly days in the UK. We all feel the same way. We want our families to enjoy the day and watch us play with great pride and joy.

"So, I am wholly empathetic with Eric. I don’t know him and I have never met him but I am empathetic with him. [What you get paid] has got nothing to do with it. When you go on that pitch, you don’t sign up to get abused.

"You sign up to compete and you sign up in the laws of the association to play football. We have to talk about zero tolerance with supporter behaviour as well. There may be a fine line but it is important people play within the rules."

Elliott was in attendance at the London Football Awards where various charities and projects were being celebrated for promoting diversity in the English capital.

He believes football clubs are battling against a general political atmosphere that sees racism on the increase while pointing out that his former club Chelsea have the stand out project in their Say No To Antisemitism campaign that should set an example for other clubs.

"Chelsea are magnificent," he continued. "I support Bruce Buck on his work that he does with Antisemitism. It shows best practice. No question about it. It is the best such campaign in London football.

"You and I know we are in a challenging time. I have always said when you have racism in society, then you are going to have it in football. But football is doing some really good work, in my view, the clubs and players don’t get enough recognition for the work they do.

"Everybody wants to look at the one negative but behind that negative, there’s 100s of great causes that the clubs support. Corporate social responsibility underpins every club. It isn’t the sexiest thing that gets the acclaim and you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

"That’s why these events are important because you put that alongside the star-studded stuff like Tammy Abraham winning the best London Footballer. In these hardened challenging times, it is the power of football to deliver messages on anti-discrimination, equality, diversity and inclusion."