Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes football is in danger of returning to the bad old days of widespread racism unless the authorities do more to eradicate the issue.
Ferdinand's brother Anton, who plays for QPR, is involved in a race row with John Terry, which led to the Chelsea defender being stripped of the England captaincy earlier this week.
Terry denies a charge of racially abusing Anton in a match between Chelsea and QPR at Loftus Road last year and the issue will be settled in a trial to be held in July.
That controversy came after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was handed an eight-match ban by the FA for aiming a series of racist taunts at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
There have also been increasing case of fans involved in racist abuse of players on micro-blogging website Twitter and Ferdinand is concerned that a return to the attitudes of the 1980s, when black players had to endure monkey noises and bananas thrown at them by fans, could be around the corner.
"I almost feel I have been fooled a little bit over the years," Ferdinand told the BBC's Football Focus programme.
"Look back to the days when John Barnes and the other guys were playing and all the stuff they had to deal with, bananas on the pitch etc.
"I have always been someone who has championed our country for making great strides, and we have, but I thought that era was gone. It seems like it was just put to one side for a while.
"Now it seems to be a little bit more prominent. I hope it is just a group of small-minded people who are making it newsworthy at the moment and it can be stamped out."
Ferdinand also admitted it has been frustrating watching Anton suffer the abuse of "small-minded people" following the incident over a matter that was not his fault.
"Anton is my little brother," he said. "We have grown up together and I have looked after him when we were kids.
"If something is going to affect him and hurt him, I am always there as a shoulder to lean on.
"In moments like this, when things are so public and you can't really say anything, it can be frustrating.
"For my family, yes, it has been tough. At the end of the day, my brother has not brought any accusations to anyone. He is not the accused.
"But he has had to sit there and take abuse from some small-minded people, which has been very disappointing.
"I hope people see what effect that has, not just on the actual person but the people around them as well, and think before they speak."