Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling hopes his – and other players’ – stance on racism will help eradicate it from grounds within the next decade.
The 24-year-old has been a prominent figure in the fight against abuse and discrimination from the stands, with his treatment at Stamford Bridge earlier this season thrusting the issue into the headlines.
Since then there have been numerous other incidents but Sterling hopes by taking action now he and his fellow professionals can avoid further pain in the future.
“It’s difficult. I wanted to bring light on not just one situation, but on my past experiences, things I’ve felt and know speaking to other players, something I felt I needed to say,” he said.
“We’re trying, not just me, to make a change that in 10 years’ time younger players won’t have to think about a match and dare to be abused because the fans at that stadium will know what the consequences will be.
“That’s the end goal for me and every other player I’ve spoken to, people at the club, and we’re trying to get something in place so people have to think twice before they say something like that.
“People always say about walking off the field, it’s not one I personally agree with.
“It’s (football) something you love; the abuse is vile, degrading, but you know what you are, you don’t need someone to tell you what you are.
“The best way is to be hard-headed and do it in the right way, try to win that match and stick it to them.”
Sterling is in the running for Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year with his main rival being Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.
The England international has had another great season and is on course to beat last season’s best Premier League return of 18 goals (he is currently on 17).
“I’d say competition (is the reason for improving) with the manager bringing more wide players in,” he added.
“I realised it (goals and assists) was a part of my game I needed to do better at and I think I have started to enjoy it.
“I always said I wanted to get better at it. I didn’t say I need to score this many, but last season I said I wanted to score 15 in the league, and scored 18. “This season I need to go better than last season. What you do as a winger, if you can contribute those numbers and assists, you can help your team compete for trophies at the end of the year.”
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