Racist groups used to use football clubs as recruiting grounds, according to former Chelsea footballer Paul Elliott.
Speaking to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tueday, Elliot said that football effectively contained the "ugliness of society" due to the influence of extremist groups.
"Extremists trying to launch their own recruitment drives, using football clubs as a catalyst to do that. Black players became the scourge of that. It was a difficult challenge for us. Fundamentally for us there was no legislation in place. Myself and others had to put up with it, focus on our game, obviously to the best of our ability as we can," he said.
"The ritualistic abuse was utterly unacceptable" he added .
He condemned the "horrific" racist abuse in football, like "monkey-chants". He said that other players would use that sort of abuse to "psychologically destabilise" black and minority players.
"When it comes to racism, no-one is above the law. People are now realising it is unacceptable. We can't afford complacency [on stamping it out]" he said.
Speaking alongside him, Gordon Taylor, from the Professional Footballers' Association, said "we need to have a zero tolerance approach to racism.
"The police are having to take it more seriously now, I think clubs are having to take it more seriously now" he said.
Taylor expressed frustration that young black players still felt they couldn't complain about racism in football.
"There's an element of feeling amongst younger black players that 'Hmm I could make a complaint, but...'. I'm a little bit frustrated we couldnt be more effective in this process. We shouldn't stand for this" he said.