Lord Ouseley, chairman of the anti-racism group Kick it Out, has told any player, including Anton Ferdinand, to speak out if they feel they have been racially abused.
QPR defender Ferdinand has been in the news over Chelsea and England captain John Terry's alleged racial slur against him on Sunday, and the Football Association, for whom Lord Ouseley serves as a council member, are investigating.
Lord Ouseley says he has yet to hear from Ferdinand, though, and told the Daily Telegraph: "I have heard nothing from Anton Ferdinand. I hope players when they make complaints (and then keep quiet) can see they are actually letting down all the people who made sacrifices in the past to get us to the position we have got to now."
He added: "Players like Howard Gayle and Ian Wright made stands against racism. Many players have had their lives ruined as a result of challenging unacceptable racist behaviour; players in the 70s and 80s just got kicked out of their clubs.
"The sacrifices they made will be wasted if people are not prepared to push forward with any grievances so that these can be heard and dealt with in a fair manner. That's important. We must ensure fairness as there are two sides to every story."
Wright, now a media pundit following his retirement as a player, believes Terry will be "punished for life" if he is found to be guilty, and said in his column in the Sun: "Only Terry himself knows exactly what was said and in what context.
"What I do know is that, if Terry was proved to be guilty of hurling racist abuse, then his real punishment would come when he goes back to the Chelsea training ground.
"That's when he would have to look into the eyes of team-mates like Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, Daniel Sturridge, John Obi Mikel, Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou, Ramires, Jose Bosingwa, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien and Co.
"He's their captain, their leader and the feeling would not be pleasant for him. I'm sure there are a lot of black players who he's respected and only JT himself fully knows what was said.
"But if he's guilty, I can guarantee he will be punished for life - he will never, ever get over it. What more punishment would he need than that?"