Sky Sports football pundit Gary Neville has hit out at Boris Johnson for fuelling racism after an incident during the Manchester derby game.
Neville was commenting on reports live on television that Manchester City had been made “aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures” during the match against Manchester United.
The clip reportedly shows a supporter making a monkey gesture at a United player.
The pundit slammed Boris Johnson for stoking up the rhetoric about immigration and said it had impacted on the number of racist incidents in the last three years.
He said: “You are watching the prime minister debate last night where the prime minister is talking about migration to this country, and people having to have certain level.”
Roy Keane, also in the studio, nods as he continues: “It fuels it all the time, and essentially it is something that has got worse over the last three years in this country and not just in football.”
Twitter users were mixed on whether politics should be brought into the football analysis, but many praised Neville for speaking out.
David Maddock said: “Gary Neville just coated Boris Johnson for “fuelling” racism with his Brexit immigration rhetoric. Fair play to him for calling out the hateful, racist dog-whistle politics of this right wing government.”
Daniel Storey wrote: “If you think Gary Neville was wrong for pointing out the prime minister’s history of saying racist things, you are playing down the significance of the prime minister saying racist things. Which is part of the problem.”
English football’s equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out said it had been “inundated with reports of alleged racist abuse from a number of individuals” during the game.
It added: “We will be contacting both clubs to offer our support and hope swift action is taken to identify the offenders.”
A City statement after the game read: “Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening.
“Officials from the club are working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries.
“The club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play.
“The club operates a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life.”
City said that “working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned”.
Neville isn’t the first football pundit to get political. Gary Lineker is a well-known Remain campaigner and, in October, Jamie Carragher called for a second referendum on Brexit.
He said: “Before we potentially relegate ourselves as a country. And given polls show a lot of people have changed their minds. And because nobody under the age of 21 has had a chance to vote. I think maybe we should think again. And check to see if this is really what people want.”