Brighton defender Bernardo has called for those found guilty of racial abuse in football to be sent to jail.
Recent high-profile incidents, including monkey chants being aimed at England players during a Euro 2020 qualifier away to Montenegro, have again highlighted the problems within the game.
Chelsea will seek to ban the supporters involved in a social media video which included a racially abusive chant about Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
Club statement. https://t.co/tMqiV6H53Z
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 11, 2019
Three individuals already identified were denied entry to Thursday night’s Europa League win at Slavia Prague.
Sports Minister Mims Davies has described the racist abuse of footballers on social media as “shameful”.
Brazilian Bernardo, who joined Brighton from RB Leipzig last summer, has called for the authorities to use the full force of the law against those responsible.
💬 “What will stop people [being racist] is being punished. It’s been too soft, it shouldn’t be accepted and things should be more strict.”#BHAFC 🔵⚪️
— Brighton & Hove Albion ⚽️ (@OfficialBHAFC) April 12, 2019
“I’m speechless because it’s always the same thing, it doesn’t seem like things are going to change and I don’t see punishments – it’s something that shouldn’t be accepted anymore,” Bernardo said, quoted on the Brighton website.
“I don’t know how it works in England, but in Brazil racism is a crime and you go to jail if something like this happens. I think it should be the same over here – maybe things would start to change.
“When one incident happens, then a second and third one, and people notice that nothing is happening, they will carry on doing it.
“Unfortunately you can’t change people’s minds – if someone is racist, you can’t change that, and I actually feel pity for that person.
“But what will stop people (being racist) is being punished. It’s been too soft, it shouldn’t be accepted and things should be more strict.”
Full-back Bernardo, who was born in Sao Paulo, recalled an incident during a match in South America which resulted in direct action against racist abuse.
“If you (racially) offend me on the street in Brazil and I go to the police office, nothing happens, but if it happens on a football pitch with cameras and the whole media covering it, it’s jail,” he said.
“I was at the stadium for a Copa Libertadores game between Sao Paulo and an Argentinian team – the camera saw the Argentinian player offending the Brazilian player and at half-time they had the images.
“The second half didn’t start, they went and arrested him on the pitch and took him to jail.
“The guy spent one day in jail and then flew back to Argentina, but the image of a football player being arrested on the pitch for being racist is so powerful and impactful.
“I see it as a crime and something that should face a punishment – maybe not years and years in jail, but you should be punished and embarrassed.”
Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling has used his position to speak out against racism, as well as making defiant gestures on the pitch with goal celebrations and taking to social media.
Bernardo accepts the choice of whether players should walk off is down to the individual, but feels such direct action would send a powerful message.
“It doesn’t make sense to be in that sort of environment, there are more important things in life than a match of football,” he said.
“The image that you give when you leave the pitch is that you simply don’t accept it. There’s no discussion – I don’t accept it and I’m going away.
“I see it in this way – you are passing on a message that can be more valuable than playing on for a few more minutes.”