Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger said he shares “the same fate” as Raheem Sterling when it comes to suffering racist abuse during football matches and praised his club for taking swift action against those who allegedly targeted the Manchester City star.
Chelsea suspended four supporters from attending matches at Stamford Bridge after TV footage appeared to show one fan racially abusing Sterling as he retrieved the ball from the byline during a Premier League match against City in December.
Metropolitan Police are also investigating the incident and, as Chelsea prepare to take on City again at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, Rudiger — who was also the target of racist abuse from Lazio midfielder Senad Lulic during his time at Roma in Serie A — expressed sympathy with Sterling.
“Raheem and I share the same fate,” Rudiger said in an interview with German magazine kicker. “It is a scandal that something like this still exists.
“It’s good Chelsea are pulling through with the bans for a few fans. But such people are everywhere. And I’d wish for other clubs to follow Chelsea’s example.
“You must punish them severely. And I appeal to everyone in the stadium to speak out against those people.”
Chelsea are under pressure to gain a positive result against City this weekend after three defeats in their last eight Premier League games saw Arsenal and Manchester United close the gap in the race for the top four.
A shock 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth last week has raised further questions about the style that Maurizio Sarri is trying to implement at Chelsea, but Rudiger said that the players must take responsibility for their inconsistent performances.
“It’s up to us now,” the defender said. “What happened against Bournemouth must not happen again.
“Our biggest shortcoming is that we lost consistency. We always want [it], but sometimes not a lot works out. We go blank a bit currently, but it’s no reason to talk everything down. I am not that kind of guy.
“For a long time, Chelsea had a defensive approach. And you can’t get used to something new overnight. Pep Guardiola’s first year wasn’t all that smooth as well.”
Sarri has repeatedly questioned his players’ mentality after defeats, but Rudiger has a different view of what is holding Chelsea back.
“He’s a very emotional coach,” the Germany international said of Sarri. “But you can’t put everything down to motivation.
“We have been there when it mattered. We were the first team to beat Manchester City after all. We must be tougher.
“By now, we have a lot of possession, but we need get something dirty back in our game.”