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23rd Apr 2019

Raheem Sterling says football’s racism problem is ‘nowhere near being sorted’

Raheem Sterling has called for drastic changes in the way football tackles racism in a column printed in the Times, including nine-point deductions

Reuben Pinder

Sterling how outlined big changes that must be made if we are to make any progress

Raheem Sterling has become a leading figure in football’s fight against racism over the past year. Having been subject to both covert and overt racist abuse from the press and and public for years, he decided to take a stand – first with his Instagram post which pointed fingers at a national newspaper for their unfair treatment of black players.

More recently Sterling has taunted racist fans during England’s away trip to Montenegro, cupping his ears after scoring a goal. Now, he has come forward with some concrete demands, saying in a column in the Times that football’s racism problem is ‘deep’ and ‘nowhere near being sorted’.

“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 an,” he explains.

“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.”

Listing recent examples of racism within football, including the treatment Moise Kean received after his celebration against Cagliari, Sterling said this was 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,” Sterling says.

That is why, he says, he is signing the Times’ manifesto, which calls for massive changes starting at the very top of the game.

Sterling wants “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.”

Those harsher punishments include a nine point deduction for any team whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse.

On top of more BAME people in positions of power, Sterling wants to see the diversity on the pitch mirrored in the dugouts.

“Black players make up about 25 to 30 per cent of teams in the top four divisions, so that should be mirrored with coaches (it is now about 4 per cent) and in boardrooms (0.5 per cent).

“By doing that, there will be people looking out for black players and holding anyone to account who acts in a racist way. It also sends black players the message that they can go on to have a career in the game after they retire.”

Sterling’s piece also focussed on punishments for racist abuse, highlighting that fines are ineffective.

“It’s crazy that fines are usually given out as a first port of call when fans are racist. We have seen plenty of times where a country is fined less for their fans’ racist behaviour than a player is for showing an off-brand sponsor or coming on to the pitch late,” he says.

“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 also said that, while he doesn’t think walking off the pitch is the best solution, players should not be punished for doing so.

Sterling’s full article can be read here.