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Emile Heskey: Racism 'was the norm' in football - ex-England striker

From BBC - January 14, 2018

Ex-England striker Emile Heskey says "racism was considered the norm" when he came through the football ranks.

Chelsea are investigating claims of racism from the 1990s against former coaches Graham Rix and Gwyn Williams, while Newcastle United Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley has been accused of racism and bullying.

All three men deny the allegations.

"If you got sour or upset about any of these things you generally would not go anywhere in football," said Heskey, 40.

"No black person controls anything within football so we had to fit in."

But he said it was right that people were able to speak about their experiences: "It has to come out to let people understand what we had to go through and how tough we had to be to make it within football."

Heskey started his career at Leicester before an 11m move to Liverpool in 2000. He went on to have spells at Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa, Newcastle Jets in Australia and Bolton Wanderers before retiring.

He also won 62 England caps, scoring seven internationals goals, and played in two World Cups.

Heskey did not go into specific details when asked about individual clubs and coaches, but told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek: "You are in an environment where you have got to remember racism was considered the norm. I grew up in the late 1980s and 1990s.

"You desensitize. You grow up with that sort of stuff. I do not think anything was maliciously said to me as a player."

He added: "I have just turned 40 and in my era [racism] was a little bit less than the era before.

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