Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling has called for harsher punishment for racist abuse as the problem continues to worsen in the game.
Sterling has been one of many victims of racism over the last number of months, with the 24-year old suffering abuse while playing for Manchester City away to Chelsea and on international duty for England against Montenegro.
Over the weekend the PFA called for players to boycott social media with the #Enough campaign in an aim to bring players together to demand more action from social media networks and authorities.
On Tuesday Sterling penned a piece in the Times UK in which he detailed his struggle with abuse and called for harsher punishments for offenders.
Sterling outlined that he feels current financial punishments given out to clubs or football associations is simply not enough and that an automatic nine-point deduction would hit clubs much harder.
“I don’t think generally that walking off is a great solution, but players should not be punished for it. 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?
“As well as that, the club should have to play three games behind closed doors. That way, they lose revenue as a direct consequence of racist behaviour.
“Small fines do no damage to clubs and countries, but one group of people who do have the money to make them take notice are sponsors. The next time that a club or governing body fails to act appropriately against racism, I would love to see that company pull its money out and make a moral stand. That would have a huge effect and make people think twice about ignoring abuse.”
The Manchester City man, who was recently nominated for both the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year, also spoke about the problem of social media in tackling abuse.
“Another area where racism is a problem every day is social media. Black players are called monkeys, the N-word, have banana emojis sent to them. I get a lot of messages like that but I try to laugh at them and delete them, otherwise I couldn’t get on and live my life. Companies need zero tolerance with these people. They have to be banned and reported to the police. It’s disgusting behaviour.”
You can read Sterling’s full piece here which includes details of a 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.”