Sunday 15 September 2019

'Kick It Out' slam football authorities after Sterling abuse

Raheem Sterling. Photo: Getty
Raheem Sterling. Photo: Getty

Tom Morgan

Football's elite was last night accused of hiding away from racism as campaign group 'Kick It Out' said it needed twice its current funding to tackle surging volumes of prejudice after Raheem Sterling was abused at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.

Anti-racism campaigner Troy Townsend believes black players - from the grass roots to the top tier - felt let down by predominantly white boardrooms at clubs and governing bodies who failed to speak out after alleged racism against Manchester City's Sterling and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Yesterday, a Chelsea fan, who is suspected to have yelled "you f*****g black c**t" at Sterling, was identified and interviewed by the club ahead of a likely grilling by Scotland Yard.

Chelsea announced they had suspended four people from attending their matches, pending further investigations.

As Townsend criticised lack of diversity in the Premier League and FA boardrooms, campaign group founder Lord Ouseley also called out Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore and FA chairman Greg Clarke for failing to personally condemn recent scenes.

"The problem with our game is leadership," Townsend said. "The authorities, the powers-that-be, have a responsibility to everyone involved in the game and have a responsibility to speak out when the situation arises. There are players who feel let down."

A recent report by the campaign group shows instances of discriminatory abuse within football were up 11pc last season to 520, the sixth successive annual rise, of which 53pc were racism-related.

Yesterday, the PFA called for clubs to take strong action to tackle racism from fans and echoed Sterling's statement that imbalanced media coverage of young black players was fuelling racist abuse.

However, Townsend indicated the response had been too slow: "We are getting to old news by the time these organisations are coming out. You have to act fast and you have to act strong. You have to make sure you are advocating change, and I'm not seeing that."

'Kick It Out' has previously disclosed it receives about £650,000 annual core funding from the FA, Premier League and Football League, and has 14 full-time staff.

"Doubling our funding would leave us in a really good place," Townsend said. "We punch above our weight but if we bring the money to the right level we can become more relevant to the entire game."

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport