Whatever the result of the Football Association's investigation into allegations that John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand, the governing body must be seen to be providing strong leadership at this time.
Because the FA has been pushing so commendably hard to stamp out racism as much as possible in recent years, it has to be shown to be taking a lead and being decisive on this issue.
The men in charge at Wembley must address these allegations as a matter of urgency. They can't just hope it goes away because it will undermine all the efforts they have made to eradicate racism.
If Terry is found to be guilty, and he is certainly innocent until proven otherwise, then the FA must react very, very strongly. You can't do what UEFA has done in the past to eruptions of racism and just impose a slap on the wrist or a minor fine.
If the FA rules against the England and Chelsea captain then I completely agree with Les Ferdinand - cousin of Anton - that Terry should never play for his country again. How could you expect any black player to take the field alongside someone found guilty of racist abuse?
Could you take a racist player to an international tournament, where he would play against numerous other black players? How would their opponents feel? England have enough problems without carrying that kind of stigma around.
We have seen situations in the past where England players have been racially abused, most recently in the Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria - an incident that provoked a UEFA investigation.
Given players from this country have been targeted in the past, it is important to prove to other nations and associations that while we talk the talk when our players are the victims of racial abuse, we also walk the walk when they are guilty of the same offence. We might get abused when we go abroad but when something happens in our country we deal with it straight away.
The FA taking a strong stance against racism would increase the pressure on UEFA and other countries to address their own problems. A country like Spain might have the best football team in the world but they also have problems: black players aren't protected there in some situations.
If Terry is found guilty, and again I emphasis the 'if', the matter must be dealt with very, very strongly as far as I am concerned because no one wants to see an issue this serious be ignored.
Young black kids who are just starting to make their way into the professional game, 14 and 15-year-olds, will be watching the situation closely and wondering, if guilty, what punishment a high-profile player will get for behaviour like that. Those kids need to know that racism in any form will not be tolerated.
When you are trying to stamp something out in the terraces and on the streets, and trying to bring people together, the last place you need to see it is on the pitch and that is the problem. There can be no excuse whatsoever.
I had to deal with certain issues during my playing career, but back then you couldn't complain. If you did you would have lost, you would have been out of the picture. That was in the 1980s and now the environment is different, but it hasn't been sorted out 100 per cent. Beating racism is a fight that spans decades and it won't be won in this one.
You can't go on a witch hunt of course. You have to see if the proof is there. But on the other side of the coin, I think Andre Villas-Boas has been too quick to jump to Terry's defence in such strong terms.
He is right to offer his player support and back him - but any experienced manager like Sir Alex Ferguson would go out and establish all the facts first. I think Kenny Dalglish only came out strongly once he knew categorically he could back his player.
The case between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra is a bit different because it is just the respective words of two men. There is no evidence and there is nothing that can be done about that.
Of course, with the Terry case there is video evidence. Quite what the FA makes of the video at their disposal is another matter, but either way they must not leave themselves open to accusations of indecision or dragging their feet on an issue this important.