Former Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Clarke Carlisle believes England manager Gareth Southgate was right not to take his players off the pitch following racist chanting in Montenegro.
England players Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi had racist chants directed at them during the 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory in Podgorica on Monday night.
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling reacted to scoring England’s final goal by pulling his ears in front of home fans as a sign of defiance, later also taking to social media to address the issues head on.
Governing body UEFA subsequently opened disciplinary proceedings against Montenegro, including a charge of racist behaviour.
There have been calls for the punishments to be harsh, with Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola both backing suggestions of direct action by taking teams off.
Southgate has also underlined the need for education to try to tackle the wider issues.
Former defender Carlisle, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, feels the burden should fall on the authorities, clubs and stewards – rather than the players and the manager – to take action when supporters hurl racist abuse from the stands.
Carlisle told the Press Association: “The game needs to take a stand, and it should not have to rest on the shoulders of the players to do that.
“If the players left the field each time something happened, we would see change quicker – but it is not the players who should have to take on that responsibility.
“The onus should be on the rule-makers and enforcers, the stewards, the governing bodies. They are the ones who need to act.”
Carlisle added: “Gareth Southgate was right with how he played it, in my view. He raised the issue and his comments after the game were spot-on.
“And kudos to Raheem. He acted in the right way, he didn’t let it get to his head, but he responded to those idiots in the best way he could – with a great performance. He came out afterwards and addressed the issue and fair play to him.
“He and the other players should not have to miss out on playing football because of the idiots, it’s them who should be missing out, getting bans – not depriving players of football.”
Carlisle, 39, said players needed to have “faith in the system” if more of them were going to have the courage to call out racist abuse.
“There are a lot of guys who went before Raheem who have not had the courage to speak out about racism until they have left the game because they don’t want to rock the boat. So for him to stand up takes courage,” he said.
“Football is struggling, it’s one of the last bastions where this racist behaviour is almost tolerated.
“There is not a zero tolerance approach to prosecuting people for actions like this, holding clubs to account for the behaviour of their players, or fans or staff.
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“In any other workplace it would be treated properly, if I was to say something racist in the supermarket it would be dealt with properly, but not in football and that’s wrong.
“The way football clubs react needs to change. Stewards are still afraid of the mobs.
“What needs to happen is when racist behaviour is spotted, the culprits need to be identified and removed, they need to be dealt with, prosecuted if necessary.”
:: Clarke Carlisle was speaking as an ambassador for the KSF Altus Football programme, which seeks to boost diversity and opportunity through sport. More information is available from www.altusfootball.com