Raheem Sterling has continued his campaign against racism by saying it is “not enough” to boycott social media and wear t-shirts in protest against discrimination.
Sterling, who was speaking at a Wall Street Journal event in New York, said there must be “harder punishments” for racist abuse if the footballing world is to take the issue seriously.
The Manchester City and England forward, who was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in part because of his impact beyond the pitch this season, was invited to speak as part of a conference featuring “groundbreaking leaders, innovators and change-makers”.
Sterling said he was not in favour of campaigns such as social media boycotts because he believes they lack a long-lasting impact.
In April, the Professional Footballers’ Association launched a campaign, titled #Enough, in which it encouraged footballers to boycott social media for 24 hours.
#Enough.— PFA | Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) April 25, 2019
Following the success of Friday’s social media boycott, the PFA is calling for continued player support as we gear up for the next stage of the #Enough campaign.
More details here: https://t.co/7R3XnqwQCupic.twitter.com/PWB3ttwils
Sterling, who spoke out after he was allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans in December, said: “After the situation at Chelsea they came to me with an idea, but I did not agree with it.
“It was a social media blackout. I said I simply do not agree with what you want to put out. It is a social media post that will happen for one day. In two days’ time it will all be forgotten about.”
On Kick It Out, the anti-discrimination charity, Sterling added: “A few times they get us to wear a t-shirt, but again it is not enough. There needs to be harder punishments.
“Teams getting points deductions, getting kicked out... this is when people start taking it seriously.
“If I go to a football game and I support Manchester United, for example, I don’t want to be the person that lets my team down by saying silly remarks in a stadium.
“If you know your team is going to get deducted nine points, you are not going to say these racist remarks even though you shouldn’t have it in your head.”
Sterling hopes to use the summer break to speak to the Football Association and the Premier League about stepping up the fight against racism in the sport.
“In football you can get caught up with training every day and games come every two, three days so you don’t really have a lot of time to be out and speaking to people,” he said.
“But for sure on my time off and holidays if I can get around and speak to the FA and the people in the Premier League and see how we can go about doing things better in the future for sure I’ll be there in person to try and do that.”
Sterling added: “Ten years ago it was a lot, lot worse than it is now. It’s starting to get better and people are understanding they can’t say certain things.
“But I think it’s partly English culture on a Saturday to go out early and get ready for the game and start drinking. So a lot of these people are kind of drunk by the time they get [to the stadium]. But it’s getting a lot better than it used to be.”