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12th Dec 2018

Ainsley Maitland-Niles reveals that he suffered racist abuse as a 12-year-old

Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles has revealed that he received racist abuse on the football pitch as a 12-year-old

Reuben Pinder

12 years old

Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles has revealed that he received racist abuse during a football match as a 12-year-old.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League tie against Qarabag, Maitland-Niles was asked about Raheem Sterling’s actions on Saturday, when he spoke out against racism after suffering abuse from Chelsea fans at the weekend.

Maitland-Niles was full of praise for Sterling, hailed his bravery for posting his statement and revealed that he too has received racist abuse from spectators during his childhood.

“It is disgusting. It happened to me before in youth football, similar to what happened with Raheem,” Maitland-Niles said.

“I went out to take a throw in and there was racial abuse behind me.

“I was at Arsenal at the time, It was an away trip to Germany. I spoke to my dad and he gave me the heads up.”

“I only thought they were doing it because I was having a good game,” he added.

“It is one way of them knocking me off my game and making me feel uncomfortable.”

He explained that he did report the incident but “nothing was done about it. I guess I just had to move on from it and become stronger from that.”

Sterling has received overwhelming support from fans and certain sections of the media following his statement on Sunday, with several fellow professionals standing in solidarity with him in football’s fight against racism.

“I really credit Raheem for coming out and speaking about it,” Maitland-Niles said.

“It hurts to talk about it but it is so important to get rid of it from the game.”

“It’s not just footballers that need to be on board with it, it’s everyone else: the press, the media, the staff as well.”

Maitland-Niles could feature in Arsenal’s game against Qarabag at the Emirates on Thursday night.