Raheem Sterling has demanded harsher punishments for racist fans after team-mate Danny Rose was subjected to racist abuse during England’s 5-1 win over Montenegro.
Sterling was among the goalscorers for the Three Lions as the visitors rallied from a goal down in the first half to come away with a comfortable win in their Euro 2020 qualification match.
However, the match was marred by Rose becoming the victim of racist chants by the home crowd after receiving a yellow card.
Callum Hudson-Odoi confirmed he and Rose heard monkey chants, while England head coach Gareth Southgate also said he heard the abuse toward Rose himself and promised an official report will be made.
Sterling posted a message to Twitter with a picture of himself celebrating and adding: “Best way to silence the haters (and yeah I mean racists).”
The tweet fueled speculation that Sterling might have been subject to abuse.
The England winger said he was not a victim, but said he wanted to send a clear message to racists that he and his team-mates would not be intimidated by their behaviour.
“I didn’t hear it personally but Danny made it clear that’s what they were doing,” Sterling said of the racist abuse. “I just wanted to show them that you’re going to need more than that to upset us and stop us because we know what skin colour we are. It’s not like you’re telling us anything new.”
Later, speaking to ITV, Sterling further clarified those comments saying: “Those things can’t go unspoken about, you’ve got to speak about it. It’s 2019 now and it’s getting a bit silly.
“I wanted to rub it in their wounds a bit more, it’s as simple as that.”
Sterling is no stranger to this situation and has previously talked about the racist abuse he has suffered at the hands of fans and media.
And the Manchester City star admitted frustration that racism in the game continues to be an issue despite long-standing talk of eradicating it from football.
According to Sterling, that requires harsher punishments – not just punishing one or two individuals but the whole fanbase to provide incentive for it to be stopped.
“It’s 2019 now and I keep saying it’s a shame to see this keep going on. We can only bring awareness to it and light to the situation,” Sterling said.
“Now it’s time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You can finesomeone, but what’s that going to do?
“You have to make it harder. You need to punish either the whole fanbase so they can’t come to games… you have to do something that’s going to really make them think twice.
“If their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them. You need to make them think twice.”
The star did say he felt a bit of hesitation in constantly being called on to speak out on these matters, but feels like he has a responsibility to bring these racist acts to light.
“It gets to a point where you don’t want to be constantly speaking about it because at the end of the day we’re footballers,” Sterling added. “But at the same time we try to make people aware of it and we need to make the people in charge aware of it. That’s all we can do.”