Villa striker Emile Heskey urges players to report racism

By Leon MannBBC Sports News

Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey has encouraged players to report racism "because there is no place for it".

He believes players are more vocal in highlighting incidents now and told BBC Sport: "When a complaint is made, it's investigated and if found to be true then they're dealt with.

"I don't think there is a case where people have thought it's not going to be dealt with 'so let's just get on with it'.

"Maybe a while ago, but now, no."

Heskey was speaking at a Kick It Outexternal-link event at Villa Park before recent allegations of racism hit the headlines.

Racism in football resurfaced after Manchester United's Patrice Evra alleged that Liverpool striker Luiz Suarez had racially abused him when the two sides met at Anfield - allegations denied by the Uruguayan.

In a separate incident, England captain John Terry released a statement denying he had used racist language in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat by QPR at Loftus Road on Sunday.

Leaving those aside, former England striker Heskey says he is convinced that the game is winning the battle against racism.

"Everyone's aware of it now," he said. "You've got cameras everywhere. People don't stand for it. It's there and people see it but we want to get rid of it - that's why we have the campaigns like Kick It Out and sit down with the children and we educate them."

The 33-year-old also revealed he was planning to take his coaching badges with a view to moving into coaching and management.

Asked what level he would aim for, he said: "I was always told to aim for the highest level. So I'd like to work at the highest level."

Birmingham City's Chris Hughton and Charlton boss Chris Powell are the only non-white managers across the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs despite more than 25% of players being black.

But Heskey feels that the lack of managers from ethnic minorities in football should not put black players off aiming for the top jobs.

He said: "Chris Hughton's been doing a good job for a long, long time. I remember him coaching back from when I was playing at Leicester.

"Chris Powell was at Leicester for a while and now he's managing - so it's about taking opportunities."

He added: "I've read a few articles and seen what Incey [Paul Ince] and people like Andy Cole have said. It's interesting, but it should never be a case of 'I'm not going to do it' because of any issue. It should make you want to do it more. That's how I feel.

"If I got to the stage where I decided I wanted to do that [management] then I'd be more determined to break down any barriers, if there are any barriers."