Society should not accept that racial abuse can be used as banter between people, Streatham MP Chuka Umanna has said.

Mr Umanna, shadow business secretary, who was speaking after the John Terry racism trial, added any type of racial abuse was unacceptable.

Terry, the Chelsea FC captain, was cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. He did admit he said “black c***” but it was only repeating what he thought Ferdinand had said in a sarcastic manner.

Mr Umanna, a former lawyer, also said more clubs should interact more with their communities to draw more fans from a range of cultures into the stands.

He said, compared to racism in other countries, particularly in Easter Europe, England has a lot more racial tolerance but stressed there is much work to be done.

He said: “My concern about the John Terry trial was the impression that could be left is that racial abuse made in a sarcastic fashion is acceptable in society.

“We have to send a very strong message, particularly because so many young people are involved in the game, we have to show racial abuse of any sort is unacceptable.

“Never mind what the law says, sarcasm cannot be raised as a defence. We cannot let it happen in our society.”

Mr Umanna, a Crystal Palace fan, used to work on the turnstiles at Selhurst Park in his teens and was once racially abused by a visiting supporter.
But his boyhood club are now one of the pioneers in finding new ways to engage with all sections of the community.

The club are in partnership with the Zesh Rehman foundation and are holding a community day for the first game of the season against Watford.

Its aim is to involve as many sections of the community as possible.
Mr Umanna said: “We should be proud of the overall progress that has been made in football in terms of combating racism but there is more to be done.

“I think what Crystal Palace is doing is a brilliant initiative and it is very welcome indeed. I congratulate them on doing it.”