Raheem Sterling has called for racist abuse to be punished by teams playing behind closed doors after chanting marred England’s 5-1 win in Montenegro in a Euro 2020 qualifier.
The Three Lions continued their Euro 2020 qualification campaign with another emphatic win – three days after scoring five without reply against Czech Republic – but the performance was marred by abuse directed at the visitors.
England manager Gareth Southgate said he heard the players abused, while Sterling has called for stronger punishments for abuse, questioning what impact fines have.
— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) March 25, 2019
Asked whether abuse should warrant stadium bans or teams playing behind closed doors, Sterling said: “Yep. Something serious for them, to make them think twice about doing it again.”
He earlier said: “It’s now time for the people that are in charge to put a real stamp on it because you can fine someone but what’s that going to do?
“You’ve got to make it harder – you’ve got to punish all the fans so they can’t come to the games, you’ve got to do something that’s really going to make them think twice. Because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them and make them think twice about it.”
Sterling celebrated his late goal by cupping his ears to the home fans, and says that was a message that it will take more than abuse to upset the players.
Sterling said: “We know, all of us know what skin colour we are, so I don’t know what the big issue is, it’s not like you’re telling us anything new.
“It’s not just young black men, it’s young kids growing up in diverse cities. It’s not just black kids I want to reach out to. In England we’ve got a diverse country and it’s 2019 as I keep saying and there are a lot of different phases in our country and bringing awareness to let people know these are new times, it’s different.”
UEFA are awaiting reports – which they will receive on Tuesday – from the match referee and match delegate before deciding whether to charge Montenegro.