Raheem Sterling calls for nine-point racism penalty
Raheem Sterling has called for clubs whose fans racially abuse players to be hit with a nine-point penalty, saying current punishments meant the issue was “nowhere near being sorted” by football authorities and ordered to play three games behind closed doors.
The Manchester City forward has become increasingly outspoken on racism in football, having received abuse on the pitch while playing for both his club and on England duty. Recently, he cupped his hands to his ears in response to derogatory chants from Montenegro fans while playing for England last month.
Now Sterling has become one of the signatories to a manifesto published in Tuesday's edition of The Times calling for more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in positions of power within football, more severe punishments for racist abuse and greater action by social media organisations, sponsors and traditional media.
“When I was a boy growing up in London, going to school and playing football, I didn't know what racist abuse was because I never suffered any,” Sterling wrote in The Times. “So 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 I do because the racism problem in football is so bad, runs so deep and is nowhere near being sorted.”
He added: “You will all have read about the various high-profile racist incidents in recent months: the abuse I received playing for Manchester City away to Chelsea; the booing that the black England players were subjected to in Montenegro; the nastiness that Moise Kean of Juventus endured in Italy and the endless insults thrown at players on social media.
“But that is sadly just the tip of the iceberg. Up and down the game, across the world, black and Asian players, fans and coaches are subjected to racism. Every day, from park football to the Champions League. In my opinion, the people who run the game are doing nowhere near enough to solve the problem. And that's not good enough.
“When I have been racially abused I have not felt really angry, just massively disappointed. It’s crazy that it happens. I normally don’t let it get to me but, on the rare occasions it does, like when a guy kicked me and insulted my mum and my daughter, I try to take my frustration out on the pitch.
“The game after that happened I used my anger to score twice against Tottenham Hotspur. And it’s sad because being black does not make me a minority. I am just a person trying to live my life without being abused.
“That is why I am signing this manifesto, calling for more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people to run the game, harsher punishments for racist fans and players, a stronger stance from social media and media and sponsors to take action.”
Sterling said punishment for racist abuse should start with an automatic nine-point deduction for clubs and three games behind closed doors rather than the current system of fines, which he said were an insufficient deterrent.
“It sounds harsh, but which fan will risk racist behaviour if it might relegate their team or ruin their title bid? I don't know how long it will take for things to change but we have to start now. I don't want the next generation of black players to have to put up with this evil.”