Raheem Sterling: Players must continue anti-racism stance to stop abuse ‘being swept under carpet’

England star Raheem Sterling says says he and his team mates must continue their anti-racism stance in order to keep the issue of abuse in football in the spotlight.

The Three Lions star said incidents of racism in the game and society were being highlighted but then ‘swept up under the carpet’ within days.

The Man City forward, guest editing BBC‘s flagship Radio 4 Today programme this morning, made the comments in a sit down chat with his international manager Gareth Southgate.

As part of the wide-ranging interview, the pair spoke about the team’s decision to take the knee before games and Sterling’s belief in its continued importance.

Southgate also revealed the decision to take a stand against racism came after England stars were racially abused by opposition fans in Montenegro.

Meanwhile, Sterling addressed the racist abuse aimed at England team mates Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho earlier this summer.

The Three Lions stars were targeted by online trolls after missing penalties in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy at Wembley.

At least three people have since been sentenced over the abuse in the UK. However a BBC report, not mentioned in today’s Radio 4 broadcast, found the majority of those who sent the vile abuse were not England fans and many live abroad.

Speaking about the abuse of his team mates in the interview, the 27-year-old football star said: ‘It’s a game with huge stakes. People are probably intoxicated, a lot of the time, they say and do things.

England star Raheem Sterling (pictured) says more must be done to keep the issue of racism in football in the spotlight

England star Raheem Sterling (pictured) says more must be done to keep the issue of racism in football in the spotlight

During the interview, Sterling also addressed the racist abuse suffered by team mates Bukayo Saka (pictured here being consoled by Gareth Southgate), Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho earlier this summer

During the interview, Sterling also addressed the racist abuse suffered by team mates Bukayo Saka (pictured here being consoled by Gareth Southgate), Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho earlier this summer

How the BBC found the majority of racist abuse aimed at England stars came from abroad 

A BBC investigation, not mentioned in this morning’s BBC Today show, revealed how the majority of trolls who targeted Three Lions stars with racist abuse on social media were not England fans and live abroad.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were bombarded with monkey, gorilla and banana emojis after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy this summer.

The abuse sparked condemnation from the FA, Boris Johnson and Prince William, who hit back at the mindless racists. 

The racist abuse in the aftermath of the Euro 2020 final saw England labelled a ‘racist country’ with an ‘ingrained culture of intolerance’. Some claimed was made worse by Britain leaving the EU. 

However, a BBC investigation later revealed that the vast majority of those who sent racist abuse were not from the UK.

Most were non-Britons living abroad, many with far-right sympathies, including trolls in Russia, across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

One of the culprits, a man 2,000 miles from Britain in Saudi Arabia with no links to the UK, admitted he had sent Saka a number of monkey emojis while watching the match with Italy.

Confronted by the BBC he said: ‘I’m sorry for sending the abuse, I was caught up in the moment watching the game with friends. I was a bit mistake because I was angry and I didn’t know what he would feel when he saw the monkeys. I really want to apologise to Saka, it was a mistake and I won’t do it again to him or any black player.’

He also added that he was only suspended by Instagram for 24 hours, but believes he should have been banned ‘forever’ because his post was ‘really racist’. 

Researchers, aided by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, meanwhile found 79 of 105 accounts flagged were still not deleted or suspended six weeks later – posing uncomfortable questions for social media firms who promised to stamp out racism on their platforms in the wake of the abuse against England stars.

 

Advertisement

‘Sometimes, when I’m angry, I try to do the upmost thing at one person that I can try to insult them as much as possible, just try to be horrible because you want to get a reaction out of that person, or you want to get a reaction because you are angry.

‘But at the same time we can’t let that disrespect or belittle another human being, no matter what their skin tone is. 

‘So I feel on that aspect I feel that’s the really disappointing thing. You being frustrated shouldn’t result in negative comments towards someone’s skin colour.’   

Asked about his own reflection on the abuse, Southgate replied said it was ‘sad’ that players had been targeted in such a way.

But he heaped praise on the majority of England fans, who he said had rallied around the football stars. 

He said: ‘What gets me is that this was a group of players that had bought everyone together for 30 days, or whatever it was, on a brilliant journey and then the first time we have a set back and a defeat, now all of a sudden we are going to let this division happen.

‘I wasn’t happy about that at all. What I was really pleased actually, although there was a horrible reaction that night from too many people, but still a minority, I thought there was a brilliant counter reaction where the majority of the fans and public were saying ‘actually we are not having this, we are with Bakayo, Marcus and Jadon, everyone else can do their thing.’

‘It’s sad we have to live through that.’

During the interview, which also featured a touching talk with Sterling’s mother Nadine, the forward also talked taking the knee.

It followed a national debate about the pre-match gesture, which became a regular fixture in top-tier football in the wake of George Floyd in the US last summer. 

Some fans elected to boo the knee, believing the gesture to be linked to the wider Black Lives Matter group – which has openly admitted to being a Marxist organisation and has previously been criticised over its views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Players and managers attempted to distance themselves, insisting they were instead calling for an end to racism in football and taking a stand against racial inequality in society.

Southgate also previously weighed into the row, saying: ‘I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with.

‘That’s not the reason that the players are doing it, we’re supporting each other.’ 

Today, in his interview with Sterling, the England boss revealed the decision to make a stand against racism arose from an incident in 2019 after the Man City star and then Tottenham defender Danny Rose were targeted by opposition fans in Montenegro.

Fans of the Balkan national side were heard making monkey chants at the Three Lions stars during England’s 5-1 away win. 

Today, in his interview with Sterling, the England boss revealed the decision to make a stand against racism arose from an incident in 2019 after the Man City star and then Tottenham defender Danny Rose (pictured: Southgate spoke about the moment Rose was booked after receiving racist abuse by Montenegro fans) were targeted by opposition fans in Montengro

Today, in his interview with Sterling, the England boss revealed the decision to make a stand against racism arose from an incident in 2019 after the Man City star and then Tottenham defender Danny Rose (pictured: Southgate spoke about the moment Rose was booked after receiving racist abuse by Montenegro fans) were targeted by opposition fans in Montengro

England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring during the 2019 Montenegro game - where he and Danny Rose suffered racist abuse by opposition fans

England’s Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring during the 2019 Montenegro game – where he and Danny Rose suffered racist abuse by opposition fans

The times England stars have been racially abused in recent years

March 2019

During a qualifier for Euro 2020, England stars Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were targeted by Montenegro fans.

England won the game in Podgorica 5-1.

Sterling celebrated his goal in the game in front of the Montenegrin fans after they were heard directing monkey chants to England’s black players.

Uefa ordered Montenegro to play their 7 June qualifier at home to Kosovo in an empty stadium as a result.

July 2021

After England’s Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy, three stars, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who missed penalties in the shootout, were targeted online by racist trolls.

The players were targeted with monkey and banana emojis and racist language.  

A number of arrests were made in the UK, including Scott McCluskey, 43, of Runcorn, who posted racist and insulting comments about the three stars.

At Warrington Magistrates’ Court in September, McCluskey pleaded guilty to a charge of Sending by a Public Communication Network an offensive message.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders sentenced him to 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

A BBC investigation later revealed that the vast majority of those who sent racist abuse were not from the UK. 

September 2021 

During England’s World Cup qualifier in Hungry in September, pitchside broadcasters reported that Hungarian fans wearing black T-shirts had directed monkey chants at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham.

England won the game 4-0 at the Puskas arena in Budabest. 

Hungary were ordered to play their next home World Cup qualifier behind closed doors and pay a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (£158,000) as punishment.

Advertisement

The incident sparked wide-spread condemnation from the England set-up, Three Lions fans and the British media, while Uefa ordered Montenegro to play their next game with no fans in the stadium.

Speaking about how the incident had influenced the players to later take the knee, Southgate said: ‘This decision we took last year from a team perspective really started in Montenegro when Raheem, Danny suffered abuse during the game. 

‘I wasn’t aware until very close to the end of the game, when Danny Rose got booked, and there was a reaction from the crowd. 

‘I didn’t know earlier in the game, on the other side of the pitch, there had been racist abuse going on.

‘So when we got in the changing room, I was having a go at Danny for getting booked, and I had to apologise on the plane after it suddenly emerged this had been going on in the game.

‘I didn’t like the fact that they felt they couldn’t mention it at half-time in the changing room, so it was like “God this is awful”.

‘How is there this environment where our players are allowed to be abused on the pitch and they don’t even feel comfortable to report it or feel anything is going to happen?

‘But at the very least, this was a team where we had to be united where we saw it and we could send a message to young kids watching.’

Sterling also admitted that players had questioned whether to stop taking the knee ahead of England’s Euro 2020 final run. 

The forward, who scored four times in England’s Euro 2020 campaign, said: ‘The question was, are we going to keep doing it (taking the knee). 

‘And I think a lot of the time when racism comes up and something has happened, a lot of times in football, and in the majority as a society, we tend to address it for that period, that five days, or that week, and then you know we normally brush it up under the carpet. 

‘Then when the next scenario happens that’s when we go again. 

‘As a country, players that have been in those scenarios face racist abuse. As a whole we just wanted to keep highlighting that.

‘Yes, there’s been times when we’ve sat down as a collective and asked “is this message still powerful?” and we’ve said “yes” as a group and collective and so we’ve just tried to keep that going.’

The Today show broadcast comes after a BBC investigation, not mentioned in this morning’s show, revealed how the majority of trolls who targeted Three Lions stars with racist abuse on social media were not England fans and live abroad.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were bombarded with monkey, gorilla and banana emojis after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy this summer. 

Sterling (pictured) admitted that players had questioned whether to stop taking the knee ahead of England's Euro 2020 final run

Today, in his interview with Sterling, England boss Gareth Southgate (pictured) revealed the decision to make a stand against racism arose from an incident in 2019 after the Man City star and then Tottenham defender Danny Rose were targeted by opposition fans in Montenegro.

Sterling (pictured left) admitted that players had questioned whether to stop taking the knee ahead of England’s Euro 2020 final run. Meanwhile, Southgate (pictured right) revealed the decision to make a stand against racism arose from an incident in 2019 after the Man City star and then Tottenham defender Danny Rose were targeted by opposition fans in Montenegro

Raheem Sterling: ‘There’s nothing more important than winning a major tournament with England’

By Kieran Lynch for MailOnline

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has insisted there’s ‘nothing more important’ for him than winning a major tournament with England.

Gareth Southgate‘s side came agonisingly close to their first major trophy in 55 years, losing out on penalties to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.

Sterling was one of England’s star performers at the tournament, scoring three goals and making UEFA’s Team of the Tournament.

The 27-year-old though has questioned why people congratulated him after the tournament, after the disappointment of not lifting the trophy at Wembley.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Sterling said: ‘The last couple of years with Gareth (Southgate)  you can see the steps we’ve been making as a team on the field and off the field. 

‘Everyone after the tournament (Euro 2020) was congratulating me and I was like ‘congratulating me for what?’

‘They were like ‘no, you had a lovely tournament’ – I was like ‘that’s not what the team set out to do,’ it was really disappointing.

‘Yes, it was a great journey but at the same time we want our hands on a trophy because there is nothing more important for me, for a lot of the boys, I think we would agree there is nothing bigger than winning a major tournament with England. I don’t think you could beat that for us as players.’ 

Advertisement

The abuse sparked condemnation from the FA, Boris Johnson and Prince William, who hit back at the mindless racists. 

The racist abuse in the aftermath of the Euro 2020 final saw England labelled a ‘racist country’ with an ‘ingrained culture of intolerance’. Some claimed was made worse by Britain leaving the EU. 

However, a BBC investigation later revealed that the vast majority of those who sent racist abuse were not from the UK.

Most were non-Britons living abroad, many with far-right sympathies, including trolls in Russia, across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

One of the culprits, a man 2,000 miles from Britain in Saudi Arabia with no links to the UK, admitted he had sent Saka a number of monkey emojis while watching the match with Italy.

Confronted by the BBC he said: ‘I’m sorry for sending the abuse, I was caught up in the moment watching the game with friends. 

‘It was a big mistake because I was angry and I didn’t know what he would feel when he saw the monkeys. I really want to apologise to Saka, it was a mistake and I won’t do it again to him or any black player.’

He also added that he was only suspended by Instagram for 24 hours, but believes he should have been banned ‘forever’ because his post was ‘really racist’. 

Researchers, aided by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, meanwhile found 79 of 105 accounts flagged were still not deleted or suspended six weeks later – posing uncomfortable questions for social media firms who promised to stamp out racism on their platforms in the wake of the abuse against England stars.

A number of arrests were made in the UK, including Scott McCluskey, 43, of Runcorn, who posted racist and insulting comments about the three stars.

At Warrington Magistrates’ Court in September, McCluskey pleaded guilty to a charge of Sending by a Public Communication Network an offensive message.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders sentenced him to 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

Jonathon Best, 52, who live streamed himself on Facebook using racial abuse when speaking about the three players in the wake of the match, was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in November.

Source

Hippo Sighting Report

Help us out, we really appreciate it.

Help contribute to our research, and let us know if you have seen similar situations that we may have missed. Our team will review the details you provide and add to our main list once we verify the information.

stay informed

Subscribe and get the updated Hippo List.

Get notified when we release our updated lists by email.

Make a Donation

Thank you for subscribing!

We will send you an email to confirm your details.  Welcome aboard!

Thanks for sending us your report.

We will review your information, and publish in on our list once we validate the details.