Abuse of Sterling harmful to football

Racism, or discrimination of any kind, can’t be allowed to have a place in football.  The game is being hurt by the behaviour of a minority. They believe it acceptable to enter football stadiums to shout despicable language at certain players. It is a form of abuse, disrespect and intimidation.  In order to eradicate racism, it is important to not only identify the culprits but also to address the root cause.  From as young an age as possible, within football coaching and schools, children need to be educated on the importance of the relationship between diversity and equality.

As well as preventative measures, such as teaching children to avoid engaging in any form of racist behaviour, it is necessary to create deterrents in the form of punishment. People must know that they will face serious repercussions for being racially abusive.  A lifetime ban, across not only all football matches but also sporting events is a mere starting point.  All football clubs must cooperate fully with the police to ensure that the culprits of racist abuse are found to be guilty of a criminal offence.

It is of vital importance for the overall health of football that discrimination is driven away from the game.  To ensure that happens in Europe it is crucial for the appropriate governing bodies, whether they be national football associations or UEFA, to take forceful, immediate and strict action.  There is an obligation among not only those in charge of the game but also supporters to unite against racist abuse.  It remains highly prevalent in the modern day and is one of football’s major scourges. A lot of work, including initiatives such as ‘Kick it Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, has been undertaken but even with those campaigns in action a highly distasteful undercurrent of racist abuse continues to boil over onto the surface.

As a high – profile sport which receives a lot of attention from the media, football cannot escape making the headlines.  They are quite often unsavoury, which puts it mildly.  It is not uncommon for incidents off – the – pitch to detract from those played out between the white lines.  A superb performance by Chelsea to inflict a first league defeat of the season on Manchester City was overshadowed by Raheem Sterling being subjected to a vile torrent of racist abuse.  To his immense credit, the player did not react.  Instead, he showed great courage to continue playing the game.  There have been instances around Europe, in Italy and Spain, that players have decided to walk off the pitch because of the expression of racist abuse.  In the case of Sterling, he would have been well within his rights to refuse to keep playing due to being too upset to do so.

It is indicative of his strength of character that he chose not to ask his manager to be substituted. Praise deserves to be heaped upon Sterling for the highly mature manner which he conducted himself in.  The hatred, hostility and venom directed towards him was wholly unjustified and no one, connected to football or not, invites such abuse.  It doesn’t have a place in any walk of life.  Any level – headed, reasonable and semi – educated person recognises that racism is entirely unacceptable.  Action must be taken to try to eradicate it, just as Chelsea are doing by cooperating with the metropolitan police to reprimand those responsible for abusing Sterling.

He is a special talent which delivers great performances for millions of people around the world to enjoy. In stark contrast to Sterling being a huge asset to football, those which abused him are harmful to the game. It was shown to have a dark, evil and nasty side during Manchester City’s defeat to Chelsea.  Their fine performance should have been applauded but instead the focus was homed in on the despicable actions of a small group of fans.  Their behaviour was a glaring reminder that racism continues to be a major problem in football which requires to be addressed urgently for the health of the game.

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