The former Brighton and Hove Albion footballer Connor Goldson has spoken out after a row over racism blighted a Europa League tie.
Goldson, 28, who captained Glasgow Rangers as the Scottish champions lost to Slavia Prague at Ibrox on Thursday (18 March), was racially abused during his stint at Brighton.
The sport’s European governing body UEFA said that it would investigate the “incidents”.
On Friday, Goldson told Sky Sports: “I’m really proud of the way the club handled it but I don’t think I’ve ever had hatred on a football pitch like I did yesterday.
“I’ve never really been angry on a football pitch to that extent. But I genuinely despise them.
“Me and the whole team waited for them in the tunnel for a whole 45 minutes and they didn’t come in.
“I’m proud of every single team-mate, every member of staff in this football club, from the chairman coming down to support us to Ross Wilson the director of football, to the manager standing by us.
“I respect them 100 per cent because they didn’t try and usher us away because the club might get in trouble.
“This is beyond football. There’s so much speech about how to eradicate it, how it’s getting better, but it’s not getting better at all. It’s getting worse.
“You come into the changing room after the game and you see boys with monkey or banana emojis all over their social media, getting called words that a white person could never imagine being called. It’s horrible.”
Confrontation erupted on the pitch after Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela was alleged to have racially abused the Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara.
Afterwards, several Rangers players were subjected to racist abuse on the social media platform Instagram, including Kemar Roofe, who was sent off during the match.
Goldson said that not enough was being done to rid football of racism and token gestures were not enough.
When England beat Bulgaria 6-0 in Sofia in October 2019, the match was stopped twice because of the extent of the racist abuse from the home fans.
Although the match came close to being abandoned, Bulgaria were fined just £65,000 and ordered to play two games behind closed doors – with one of those suspended for two years.
The match – a Euro 2020 qualifier – was marred by fans’ Nazi salutes and monkey chants and was already being played with parts of the stadium closed after previous racist abuse.
But Goldson said that he and his team-mates were united, adding: “We are together. I don’t think it was leadership. I don’t think it was the bravery of being a captain.
“It was sticking up for someone I’m really close with, someone I’ve built a real bond with and a real relationship over the last few years.
“I was really hurt to see what happened but it’s never going to change.
“As black players, we’re used as pawns in an industry to make money. I feel that’s all that we are. And the representatives won’t do enough. They never have done enough. It’s horrible to see.”
He told the BBC: “I’ll be honest, taking a knee: token gesture from the higher authorities to make it look like they are doing something to help.
“But they are not because when these things happen there is no consequence. There might be a fine but it’s never enough.
“You get fined more for showing an advertisement on your underwear than you do for being racist.
“It will never change. We’re in an age now where I feel we’re making steps forward but then, with things like social media, it’s a move backwards.
“You have the incident on the pitch where you are already angry. Then you come into the changing room and the boys look at their phones and you see all sorts of emojis and racism from sections of their fans. It’s just hard to take.”
Goldson, who joined Brighton in August 2015, suffered racist abuse from a Derby County fan four months after his arrival when Albion were playing at Pride Park.
He was signed by Rangers in June 2018 after Brighton’s first season in the Premier League and has since played 95 times and scored 10 goals.
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