Euro 2012: John Barnes backs Michel Platini's racism view

By Ben SmithBBC Sport
John Barnes
John Barnes

John Barnes backs Uefa president Michel Platini's stance over booking players who walk off the pitch during Euro 2012 in protest at racist abuse.

The ex-England winger insists racism is not an issue players should deal with.

Barnes was speaking after Holland players were racially abused during a training session on Wednesday.

"I 100 per cent back [Platini]. A player cannot arbitrarily decide he is receiving racial abuse and walk off," Barnes told BBC Sport.

Barnes suffered racist abuse throughout his career, the worst of which saw bananas being thrown on to the field during matches for Watford and Liverpool.

But the 48-year-old former Liverpool player said he would never walk off a field if he were playing at Euro 2012.

"It wouldn't be a problem to me because I am there to play football," Barnes added. "If it is a problem then the authorities have to deal with it, players shouldn't deal with it."

Barnes insists that the officials and the authorities should be left to tackle the issue. "We have to get on with the football and let the authorities do whatever they, in terms of legislation, in terms of sanctions, in terms of what they are going to do," he added.

"We can't take it upon ourselves, we still have the laws of the game. What Michel Platini said is that the referee has the power to stop the game if he believes there has been racist abuse and therefore that the players need to go by the referee's decision.

"You cannot arbitrarily as a player decide that because what you perceive racist abuse has come your way you are going to walk off.

"If then you say that every individual player can arbitrarily decide whether they are getting racist abuse or not then you could have five players walking off in every game because of what they have decided. Which is ridiculous."

The issue first came to light when Mario Balotelli suggested he would walk off the pitch if he was targeted in Poland and Ukraine.

"I hope there will not be a problem with racism at the Euros," the Manchester City forward said in an interview with France Football. "Because if it does happen I would leave the pitch straightaway and go home."