Marcus Rashford believes racism has become a "big negative" in the United Kingdom after Manchester United players appeared to be targets of discriminatory abuse in Saturday's derby, while Gary Neville pointed the finger at politicians for creating such a climate. United claimed a 2-1 win that left rival Manchester City's title defence in tatters, but the contest was marred by an incident in the second half.
While waiting to take a corner, several projectiles were thrown from a section of the Etihad Stadium crowd towards Fred, who was hit by one object. During the same break in play, one fan appeared to make racist gestures towards the midfielder, with United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer later calling for a lifetime ban for anyone found to have abused Fred or Jesse Lingard, who was nearby.
City confirmed it is working with police to investigate the incident and said it will issue life bans to anyone found guilty of racial behaviour. Rashford – who was targeted with racist social media comments earlier in the season – rued the frequency at which such incidents are occurring in the country.
"We seem to be speaking about it an awful lot over the last six to eight months," Rashford told the BBC. "Even speaking about it now is not nice. The necessary departments need to do the right things to stop it in the game. It is a big negative in the sport and the country."
Former United captain Neville, now a television pundit, suggested part of the blame lies with politicians and pointed to comments about immigration in a pre-election debate as a possible way in which discriminatory behaviour is fuelled.
"You're watching the debate last night [Friday] where the prime minister is talking about immigration, people coming into this country and having to have certain levels - it fuels it [racism] all the time," Neville said on Sky Sports.