Ferdinand: Racism has impacted many people’s lives. In your career, in your life, can you point to any situations that impacted you?
Vieira: “When I was a player, and I was playing in Italy [with Inter Milan], we played in Florence against Fiorentina where, with Sulley Muntari, we were abused by fans. They were making a monkey noise every time we touched the ball, and that was really tough. That was really difficult.
“Of course, when I was coaching the EDS [Elite Development Squad] team with Manchester City, we went to a training camp, and one of my players was racially abused by the opposition team so we stopped the game.
“I went to the coach of the opposition team and said: ‘You have to take these players out, because we can’t play in this kind of situation.’ He didn’t want to do it, so we just walked out. We walked out of the game, we stopped the game, we went back to the dressing room.
“I called Manchester City’s hierarchy and I explained the situation to them, and they fully understood, backed me up and made me understand that it was the right decision, so I was really pleased we made that decision.”
Ferdinand: What kind of things could we put in place to support current players, particularly with social media now?
Vieira: “I think we are in a situation where is a lot of talk, but not too much responsibility has been taken. When you’re looking at all those big platforms who just say ‘we can’t control it’… they can control it.
“What we really need, I believe, is for the politicians to make a decision about what kind of sanction we will give to those platforms who are not taking responsibility… I think everybody’s hiding behind the game itself and not taking responsibility.
“Something I think is really good in this country is that fans have been banned from attending games for life if there is any kind of racist behaviour. This is a massive step forward, and I hope that different countries worldwide will follow that.
“There is still work to do, but… I think in England they are leading the fight against any kind of discrimination, I would say. I strongly believe that politics has to get involved if this is really part of the agenda.”
Ferdinand: Which players have you been most proud of in terms of standing up against it?
Vieira: “The one that made a big change was [Kevin-Prince] Boateng, when he walked off the field. That was a really strong message. Samuel Eto’o, as well, made some strong statements. Those two players, at the time, made some powerful decisions.
“It takes strength and courage, because you are by yourself, and there is nothing worse than when you want to walk off the field, and you have players come to tell you: ‘Don’t worry, keep playing.’ That’s not the right thing to do. It’s wrong.”