Antonio Rudiger: Chelsea defender says anti-racism campaigns change 'nothing'

Germany defender Antonio Rudiger takes a shot during an international match
Antonio Rudiger has made 40 appearances for Germany

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger says "nothing ever really changes" after anti-discrimination campaigns in football, but he will "continue to fight" against racist abuse.

Football clubs, players, athletes and sporting bodies recently held a four-day boycott of social media to try and tackle abuse on their platforms.

Rudiger said racism goes "a lot deeper" than abuse from the stands or online.

The German, 28, has suffered racist abuse several times during his career.

In a piece for The Players' Tribune,external-link Rudiger said his article, investigations into abuse from people online and in the stands and social media campaigns "will not solve racism" in football.

The Germany international questioned why the recent proposed European Super League collapsed within 72 hours after combined objection from fans, players and the media, while racism remains a "complicated" subject.

"Maybe because it is not just a few idiots in the stands," added Rudiger, who is set to feature for Chelsea in the Champions League final against Manchester City on Saturday.

"Maybe because it goes a lot deeper."

Rudiger said the "worst" racist abuse he has suffered on the pitch was while playing for Roma against rivals Lazio in 2017, where he could see "real hatred" in the eyes of some Lazio fans.

He said after the match team-mate Daniele de Rossi asked him: "I know I will never feel the same as you. But let me understand your pain. What is going on inside your head?"

Rudiger added: "He did not tweet. He did not post a black square. He cared."

In February 2020, Rudiger said "racism won" after no evidence was found to support his claim of abuse from fans at Tottenham the previous December.

Earlier this year he said he had been subjected to "immense" racist abuse on social media from fans who blamed him for the sacking of former manager Frank Lampard in January.

Rudiger started just four of 19 Premier League matches under Lampard but has since started 15 of 19 games under Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea finished fourth.

He said many thought he was "finished" only four months ago because of what was written about him in the English media and that while the press were not critical of him because of his race, he wants people to understand "what happens when things like this are written about you" because it can lead to abuse.

The former Stuttgart player, who also writes in depth about how he is shaped by growing up in the Neukolln area of Berlin as the son of refugees from civil war in Sierra Leone, said some people have apologised on social media for the abuse he received.

However, he said such people should instead "educate" themselves, "read a book on black history and really open your mind to the experiences of other people."

"We will not solve this issue with a social media campaign, or with this article," he added.

"But I am not hopeless. I am going to continue to fight - forever. Because I know there are people out there who care. I know there are people who really hear me."

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