London – England star Jadon Sancho fears players will lose their love of football unless racist abuse is stamped out.
Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku was the latest victim on Sunday when the former Manchester United player was subjected to monkey chants before taking a penalty at Cagliari.
Sancho’s England team-mate Marcus Rashford, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma have all endured abuse on social media since the start of the season.
A number of England’s black players were also the targets of racist taunting during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro in March.
Borussia Dortmund winger Sancho — an unused substitute for England that night — is appalled.
“It just has to stop. No player wants to play football and have abuse like that,” Sancho told reporters after arriving for England duty on Monday.
“It puts the confidence down in players and the love of the sport will go very soon if it doesn’t stop. I think everyone should be happy and do what they are doing without receiving racist abuse.”
Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association had separate meetings with Twitter last week, while Manchester United and Chelsea plan to meet the social media platform to discuss racist abuse.
Sancho, 19, does not believe the problem is restricted to the internet and he called on fans to show more respect.
“I don’t think it’s social media. Some fans are just really passionate and obviously they just say what they want to say,” Sancho said.
“I just feel they need to slow it down at bit – we’re still only human.
“Because we play football people might think we are just famous and ignorant to that, but we just love the sport and just want to play football. It is hard to see things like this because it feels like, ‘Why should we play football?’
“I felt that Romelu Lukaku handled it very well by not reacting and just carrying on playing.”