Racism and football seem to go hand in hand and while there have been multiple campaigns and activists, racism seems to rear its ugly head all too often in this beautiful game. Leaving me to wonder what, if anything can be done to combat this scourge of racism and why it’s so prevalent in the year 2019.

In a recent international game England up against Montenegro in a European Championship Qualifying game and players such as Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were subjected to apparent monkey chants coming from the stands, Sterling, even after he scored seemed to make a monkey face towards the crowd as if to say look what this monkey did to your national team. Sterling himself has lead the way in recent times speaking openly about his treatment and labeling abuse he gets as disgraceful and he is absolutely correct.

So how do we combat this overt racism? For me in the sport of football it’s all about the money so I believe the federations or clubs involved need to face hefty penalties if found guilty and long periods where their own fans are not allowed to enter stadiums. This is the only course of action that will deter those who are ignorant enough to not like someone because of the color of their skin. Racism needs to be kicked out of football and if these steps are taken, maybe racists will think twice before opening their mouths or better yet don’t attend the games.

For long term solutions the problem needs to be solved at grass root levels of football. Inclusion and learning about each other at an age where children do not see colour. This is the only way forward for football because if they grow up believing as we all should that we are all equals then the world would be a much better place to live in.

Not everyone who plays at that youth level will make it into the big league, but at least they will not display racist behavior going forward in life and that for me is a better goal than being a professional footballer.

My hope is those who do make it from a generation of well educated, included and mixed footballers, become role models for children all over the world. People they can watch and who they know have no hatred for anyone except natural competitiveness towards the opposing team. Matches being played for sport with no prejudice.

I truly hope the new campaign for anti-racism can grasp the situation and help ease the burden of the players affected and also help cultivate young minds into believing that there is no place for racism in the sport or in life for that matter. The time for action is now.