Ian Ayre: 'Liverpool players will walk if racially abused'

Ian Ayre
© PA Photos
Liverpool MD Ian Ayre says that the club will take "the right action" if their players are racially abused when they play Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday.

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre has said that the team will not hesitate to walk off the pitch if their players are subjected to racial abuse when they play Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia on Thursday.

The Russians host the Reds in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie, and Ayre has said that they will take the "right action" if any player is singled out for racist taunts.

"Anything that happens off the pitch, we'll work very closely with the authorities," Ayre was quoted as saying in The Telegraph.

"We'll take the right action. I'll ensure we do whatever we need to do to protect our players.

"I'd much rather we take the incident off the pitch and we deal with it. Obviously the referee has a role to play within that. But we'll be briefing our players on what's acceptable and what's not.

"[Racist behaviour] has been a major concern for us. I wrote to UEFA very recently expressing our concerns – and also to Zenit. The most we can do is make our feelings clear ahead of the game, and hope that we get an adequate response and adequate support on the night."

Back in December, a Zenit fan group wrote an open letter to the club calling for the exclusion of gay and non-white players from the club.

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