Declan Rice has expressed his shock and sadness at the racist abuse England players received via social media during UEFA EURO 2020 but said how it was important and natural to support each other as team-mates.
'Abuse was horrible'
“To have received that type of abuse after what they’d given for everyone was shocking, sad and horrible,” Rice said. “I don’t know why other people would feel like they have to say stuff because they made a mistake in a football match.
“It’s a game of football and they’ve given everything – mistakes happen.
“We just said, ‘Boys, forget the penalties, we still love you lot. We’re all brothers pretty much. We win together, we lose together, regardless of what happens on a football pitch, we’ll always be with you.’
"And I think even more so after the messages and horrible abuse that they received."
'You should feel you can talk to someone'
Rice says the support England players gave to their team-mates was a reflection of what happens in club dressing-rooms and is important for those suffering abuse.
“When these messages are being sent and players are reading them, they are probably feeling alone, down, sad. But they should never ever feel like that because if that ever happens you should always feel like you can talk to someone about it.
"Pretty much every football club, and I speak on West Ham’s behalf, it’s like a massive family. If anyone here ever had that problem, we’d all be with that person and I feel like you need that in football. We don’t want to shy away from that, we want to stick together and be like brothers.”
The West Ham changing-room is a diverse one with players from different continents and Rice says it is great to have that opportunity to learn about different cultures.
“We’ve got players from Algeria, Arthur [Masuaku] is from Congo, Angelo [Ogbonna] is from Italy. I feel like now in football it’s special that we have players from these different types of backgrounds.
“When people like Arthur go to Congo and Mic [Michail Antonio] goes to Jamaica, I always go to Arthur, ‘What’s it like? What’s it actually like?’ and he goes, ‘It’s crazy, the love and the support – you feel like heroes out there!’
“You never get to see videos of people in Congo celebrating football. Arthur shows me videos on his phone and it’s just really intriguing to see so many kids out there that are just massive fans and then one day they’re looking at people like Arthur and thinking, ‘I really want to be like them!’
“It’s really intriguing and interesting to speak about these players and where they are from and what their background is, and what they’ve done to get where they are today.”
Also in this series
Part 1: Players reinforce there is No Room For Racism
Part 2: Mings: Coady's support vital in fight against racism
Part 3: Dier: Talking is an ideal way to show allyship
Part 4: Ferguson: Diversity is our soul
Part 5: Lookman: Education is key to phasing out racism
Part 6: Matip: Taking the knee sends important message
Part 7: James: Standing up to discrimination is so important
Part 8: Townsend: Abuse can have a terrible impact
Part 9: Rice: People who are abused should never be alone
Part 10: Kabasele: We cannot give up discrimination fight
Part 11: Chalobah: It's important players set the standards