Frank Lampard has praised the response of England players and staff in the aftermath of the racist abuse suffered in Bulgaria and called on football’s governing bodies to now take strong action.
The Chelsea head coach was asked at his Friday press conference about events in Sofia, a game in which Ross Barkley and Mason Mount featured in, while Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham were unused substitutes.
As a Three Lions player, Lampard was involved in a Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria in which Ashley Cole was among players subjected to racist chanting, and he urged the authorities to take the onus away from individual players and teams in taking tough measures to rid racism from the game.
‘I kind of remember the game and seem to think I was on the bench before coming on,’ he said. ‘I travelled with England in certain parts of Europe and we all felt it but maybe didn’t speak about it enough.
‘The governing bodies now have to make a big step because I don’t think we should rely on individual players to be making steps.
‘The collective nature of how England dealt with it from manager through to staff and players was something really good to see. It’s not the end of the story but it shows that we’re moving in the right direction and it must carry on.’
Lampard confirmed he had spoken with his club players involved in the game to show his support.
‘I’ve spoken with those players but there’s not much to say. They’re strong boys, we know Tammy has recently suffered on this front in a different degree and they know I’m there to support them.’
He also discussed the opportunity for his young England players to learn from a tough away double-header.
‘It’s a learning curve for them in all senses. Travelling in Europe brings up all sorts of difficulties in a football sense and when you look at Mason’s full debut, he was trying everything to get into the game. I played in games like that myself and I told him that afterwards.
‘A lot of my caps will have felt like how he felt last week and you just have to give everything, which Mason always will. He’s got a huge career ahead of him for Chelsea and England. It was a great experience for them to feel, a tough match on the pitch and tough environments off it.’
Lampard finished by assessing Newcastle’s threat and urging his players to continue their four-match winning run from before the international break.
‘We were playing well [before the internationals] and we have to make sure we don’t have short memories. We must remember why we were playing well, we worked hard, improved aspects of our game and were getting good results so we must get straight back to that.
'We know that Newcastle are determined, organised and have got results already this season against teams pushing at the higher end of the league so we need to control what we can control – how quickly we move the ball, create enough chances to score goals and make sure we’re switched on to the dangers that they give us. I expect us to be strong, sharp, physical and at our best.’