COBHAM, United Kingdom – Jose Mourinho believes it would be a mistake to boycott the 2018 World Cup finals in protest at racial abuse suffered by black players in Russia.
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure raised the possibility of black players leading a boycott of the tournament after saying he'd been the target of abusive chants during his side's Champions League victory away to CSKA Moscow in midweek.
But while Mourinho, whose Chelsea side face City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday, has sympathy for Toure, he said a boycott would be counter-productive.
“I respect his (Toure's) opinion, but I disagree,” Mourinho told a news conference at Chelsea's training ground, south of London, on Friday.
“I disagree because the history of football was made equally by many races, and the black players have made a fantastic contribution to what football is.
“Go to the World Cup and its the biggest expression of national team, competitions, races, people from different parts of the globe, people from every continent. And the black players are very, very important for that.”
The Portuguese added: “Who is more important? The billions of people in love with the game around the world, or a few thousand that go to football stadia and have a disgraceful behaviour in relation to the black players.
“If I was a black player, I would say the other billions are much more important. Let's fight the thousands but give to the billions what they want: the best football. Football without black players is not the best football.”
Referring to Toure's experience in Moscow, Mourinho said: “My sympathy starts with my values and my principles, and the way I see other races and the difference in people. For me, it (racism) is strange.
“But I think the players must realise that football is a beautiful game. They must realise that a huge percentage – for sure a huge percentage – of the people who go through football stadiums are pure and respect the differences of everybody, and football is more important than the small groups who express themselves in a negative way. Of course I have sympathy (for Toure).”
Chelsea have scored 14 goals in their last four matches, with Fernando Torres on target twice in the 3-0 Champions League win at Schalke in midweek while fellow-striker Samuel Eto'o scored his first goal for the club in last weekend's 4-1 win over Cardiff.
“I'm happy with all of them, all of the strikers,” Mouringo, whose side are currently just two points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, said.
“They were not scoring goals but they were working really hard. They were doing a good job for the team and their team-mates.
“There are different ways to contribute sometimes. Scoring goals is the most important thing, but there are other ways to contribute.”
Sunday's match will bring together two of the leading challengers for the English title but Mourinho insisted the result would not define the outcome of the race.
“At this moment, with the way the Premier League is going week after week, I think no result will put a team in a great situation,” said Mourinho, now in his second spell in charge of Chelsea having led the club to back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006.
“No result will put a team in a difficult situation. Every weekend, somebody loses points. Some weekends, more than one of the top teams loses points. The league is hard.
“At this stage, mid-October, I don't think one game is going to be crucial.” – Sapa-AFP