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STEVEN GERRARD has said that the abuse aimed at Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was proof that “racism is still a problem” in Scottish football.
The Colombia striker opened up in an interview this week that he had experienced racism both on and off the pitch during his two-and-a-half-year stint in Glasgow.
Morelos hit the headlines in late December when he aimed a throat-slitting gesture at Celtic fans after being sent off at Parkhead.
But he insisted that he was only signalling to the Hoops support to cut out the abuse.
Now his manager has vowed to give the 23-year-old his full support – but believes the situation should be a national embarrassment.
He said: “We always support on or off the pitch. Certainly if they are feeling they are suffering from abuse in the stands, we’re always there 100 per cent for our players.
“And we’re always there to support other players that maybe are on the end of it in our dressing room as well.
“It seems as if racism is still a problem, certainly in this country.
“I’ve been one who has been very vocal in terms of saying we all have to keep doing what we need to do to eradicate it, because it’s bang out of order.
“That’s not me just supporting my own players, that’s across the board.
“It’s very disappointing that we’re talking about situations like this in this day and age. It’s embarrassing, really.”
Morelos has been linked constantly with moves away from Ibrox recently on the back of his hot scoring streak.
And Gerrard hopes that the slurs Morelos claims he has faced will not be the deciding factor when the 28-goal frontman comes to decide his future.
He said: “I hope [Alfredo will not be driven out], because we love working with Alfredo. He’s a fantastic player.
“I know I’m always going to be biased towards him but I think he brings something to this league.
“He makes the league a lot more exciting, so I hope not. I know he feels strongly about these issues.
“My advice to Alfredo is to continue to be strong – we’re here for him if he needs that support – and to continue to do what he does best, which is scoring goals and making our supporters happy.”
Morelos missed a golden chance during Saturday’s goalless draw with Aberdeen but he was not the only player in blue who was off the beat as Rangers fell seven points behind Premiership leaders Celtic.
It was the second time in a week that Gerrard’s team have seen their title aspirations suffer after their defeat to Hearts.
But the Rangers boss – whose side have a game in hand on their bitter rivals – is refusing to press the panic button and has backed his players to bounce back against Hibernian on Wednesday.
He said: “We realise we’re not in our best form but it’s very important we don’t listen to the outside noise because there’s emotions there, there [are] people who are paid to give an opinion on how we’re playing.
“We respect and understand that but for us it’s important to stick together. Some of the outside noise is constructive but a lot of it is unnecessary.
“We’ll keeping doing what we do and get back to our best quicker than people believe.
“We’re ready for Hibs. We’re aware they are a good team but they are a side that in last five weeks we’ve beaten quite comfortably. The players know what it takes.”
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