Celtic winger Scott Sinclair used to grin and bear it when he was subjected to racist abuse from rival supporters but he now believes that the problem has become so acute it should be highlighted rather than swept under the carpet.
In May of last year he highlighted on social media a Rangers fan who taunted him with monkey gestures after he had scored the opening goal in a 5-1 victory at Ibrox.
Earlier this month he described an Aberdeen supporter as “uneducated” after he yelled out “You f****ing black bastard” as he was about to take a penalty in the BetFred Cup final win over Derek McInnes’ side.
Two Hearts fans were arrested for allegedly directing racist remarks at Motherwell substitute Christian Mbulu before a match at Tynecastle two weeks ago and Sinclair believes that football should adopt a zero tolerance approach to such abhorrent behaviour.
“It’s unacceptable, not just in football or sport but in society generally,” said the 29-year-old. “I think it needs to be kicked out. It needs to stop and to be shown that it’s unacceptable to use racial slurs or to abuse the ethnicity of players.’
“The cup final incident was on social media. I was flicking through some things and came across it.
“It’s one of those things that just shouldn’t be happening. It’s 2018.”
Sinclair struggles to comprehend how the louts who are guilty of issuing these insults regard the black players at their own clubs.
“This is what I don’t understand,” he said. “When I tweeted I called them uneducated and that’s what they are. They are uneducated in this area; they have black players in their team so it’s very confusing.
“Why would someone use that sort of slur towards black players? It’s embarrassing. It’s not acceptable for anyone in society to even think they can use that sort of language, whether they are at a football game or in the street. But it’s always around and it’s such a shame to keep hearing the racial slurs.”
Sinclair argues that the fascists who pollute stadiums with their invective should not be ignored in the hope that they go away.
“I think there’s more of a spotlight on it now, especially with [Manchester City’s] Raheem Sterling experiencing it down south and speaking out,” he said.
“It seems it’s highlighted more and people are, hopefully, taking more note of the situation. In the past players might have been racially abused and thought: ‘Never mind; I’m not going to say anything because nothing gets done’.
“Hopefully, though, as things start being done we can move forward into a more positive light. I’ve had a lot of support from all sides, all sorts of fans. They know that it’s wrong.”
Sinclair faces matches at Pittodrie and Ibrox this week but insists he will ignore any bile which may be directed at him. “I’m experienced now,” he said. “I have been in the game for what seems like a long time. You go and enjoy the occasion. It’s disappointing that we won’t have so many of our fans at Ibrox but you just blank that out and get on with it.”
Sinclair will train at Lennoxtown on Christmas Day before travelling to Aberdeen to prepare for the Boxing Day clash.
“Obviously it’s not ideal. But as football players this is sometimes what it’s all about,” he said. “We’ll spend Christmas morning with our families, with our kids. Then we will have to train in the afternoon and travel up to Aberdeen.”
But he claims that it’s a sacrifice worth making.
“It’s not ideal but we have a winter break coming up so we’ll spend time with our families then,” he said.
“It’s difficult but most of us haven’t had much time off on Christmas Day. I’ve trained on Christmas Day for God knows how many years and you just get used to it.
“You just manage. It’s all about balance; you have to play football and be professional. Then you come home and you have family life.
“I’ll take the family out to Dubai, I’ll take the kids and the parents. We’ll have a nice break and come back ready for the second part of the season.”