England legends unite against Montenegro racism and say 'we must end this abuse'

England legends were united behind the new generation over the vile racist abuse they received in Montenegro.

PM Theresa May also condemned the monkey chanting heard during Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier.

Danny Rose, 28, Raheem Sterling, 24, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, 18, were all targeted from the stands.

Hudson-Odoi said: “I don’t think discrimination should be anywhere – we are equal. When me and Rosey went over there, they were saying, ‘ooh aa aa’, monkey stuff.”

Sterling called for “real punishment” with a stadium ban for all Montenegro fans. He said: “I keep saying this – it is 2019.

“It is now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You have to punish harder.”

England beat Montenegro 5-1 in the Euro 2020 qualifier


Ex-Liverpool star John Barnes, 55, backed Sterling but pointed out that stadium bans had been tried in the past and failed.

“We need to make sure that people know why they should not do it,” he said.

Ex-England striker Garth Crooks, 61, warned players may have to walk off the pitch if it keeps happening.

“When nothing is done, it is not on,” he said. “This is not being taken seriously enough. If an employer is not protecting an employee, they must protect themselves.”

Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate says the answer lies in education

England manager Gareth Southgate warned: “We have the same issue in our country. We are not free of it. We have to make sure the ­education is right for everybody, in our country the same.”

Mrs May’s spokesman described the racist abuse as “disgusting and completely unacceptable”. He urged governing body Uefa “to quickly take strong and swift action”.

Uefa confirmed Montenegro face a charge of “racist behaviour”. The case will be dealt with on May 16.

They are also probing crowd disturbances, missile throwing, fireworks and stairways being blocked.

John Barnes says stadium bans have failed to eradicate the problem

The minimum punishment for racism is a partial stadium closure. A second offence results in one match being played behind closed doors and a fine of £42,500.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I can’t believe these people still exist.”

Mirror four-point plan to stamp out racism

  1. Points deductions: If a club or country’s fans are found guilty of racist abuse, then a six-point fine applies.
  2. Stadium closures: If clubs or countries are found guilty of racism, the next match is played behind closed doors.
  3. Competition bans: Persistent offenders could be banned from tournaments, even the World Cup,
  4. Switch fixtures: Teams’ chances of qualifying for tournaments to be made harder by banning them from playing home games, with all of their fixtures played away instead.

COMMENT: By Darren Lewis – football writer

Few people in this country will have heard of Brazilian striker Serginho.

Subjected to monkey chants in the Bolivian Primera Division last week, he walked off the pitch.

“We all endure certain things, but I reached my limit,” he said. “God created one race – the human race.”

Quite right too.

We’ve come a long way since the quiet dignity of the heroes of the 70s and 80s. Footballers and athletes around the world are simply not having it any more.

That’s why Colin Kaepernick led America’s NFL players to take a knee.

Why, in 2013, Kevin-Prince Boateng, then of AC Milan, walked off during a friendly with Pro Patria after monkey chants from opposition fans.

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While other industries have their #metoo moments, football is in a time warp. In 20 years doing this job I’ve seen players suffer while the game has ignored them.

It’s why players are making a stand. You or I would not accept racism at work. Why should black footballers?

But here is the hypocrisy. Fans and pundits want points deductions and ground closures in Montenegro.

Yet they’ve argued against using exactly those sanctions in the English game for years.

In just three months we’ve seen a banana skin thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and racist abuse hurled at Man City’s Raheem Sterling and Liverpool ’s Mohamed Salah.

We in this country have been weak on racism.

It isn’t just the Montenegro FA who should be feeling uncomfortable right now.

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