HARSHER PUNISHMENTS: Raheem Sterling wants clubs to face more severe consequences over racial abuse.
RAHEEM STERLING has said the racism problem in football is “nowhere near being sorted” and called for clubs to automatically have nine points deducted if their fans racially abuse players or other supporters.
Sterling, who has become one of the leading voices in football on the issue of racism on and off the pitch, shared his thoughts on how clubs should be punished in an opinion piece in The Times.
He wrote: “Punishments need to be harsher and money just doesn’t hurt the rich clubs or football associations. So I would call for an automatic nine-point deduction for racist abuse. It sounds harsh but which fan will risk racist behaviour if it might relegate their team or ruin their title bid?”
He added: “Small fines do no damage to clubs and countries, but one group of people who do have the money to make them take notice are sponsors. The next time that a club or governing body fails to act appropriately against racism, I would love to see that company pull its money out and make a moral stand. That would have a huge effect and make people think twice about ignoring abuse.”
His comments about fines echo those made by his England teammate Danny Rose, who has also been subjected to racism on the pitch.
Reflecting on racist chants uttered by Montenegro fans during England’s match in the country last month, Rose said: “It’s a bit sad I should have to prepare for something like that. But when countries only get fined what I’d probably spend on a night out in London, what do you expect? When the punishment is not as harsh, what do you expect?”
Sterling favours more severe consequences for teams as a response to racist abuse over those targeted walking off the field.
“I don’t think generally that walking off is a great solution, but players should not be punished for it,” he said.
The 24-year-old said it “seems crazy that, in 2019, I feel the need to write a piece in a newspaper calling for radical changes to the game that I love” but argued it was necessary because the issue of racism in football was “so bad, runs so deep and is nowhere near being sorted”.
Sterling is one of a number of signatories of a manifesto from The Times, which calls for more black, Asian and minority ethnic people to be placed into senior positions and stricter punishments for perpetrators of racist abuse.
Other signatories include Eni Aluko, Sadiq Khan, TalkSport and Kick It Out.
The manifesto also calls for players to never face sanctions over walking off the pitch in response to racism and for sponsors to be sought to promote anti-racism programmes.
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