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Racism: We’re not so perfect

There must be condemnation of racial abuse wherever we see it – but it’s a vulnerable position for England to lecture other countries

29 March, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Former West Brom striker Cyrille Regis

RAHEEM Sterling responded brilliantly to the racist chanters on Monday; undeterred he found the net, and no wonder he cupped his ears at the stands.

What followed was a mighty condemnation of Montenegro with demands for all sorts of punishments, almost as if everybody who lives in that small eastern European country is represented by the mindless idiots making monkey noises in the stands.

When oh when will they be more like us, was the tone. Or won’t someone school them, educate them, it’s like going back to the 1970s over there; a reverse swing of innate prejudice flicked back the other way.

Of course there must be condemnation for racism wherever we see it – there must be a sanction for Montenegro, those so-called supporters should not be allowed back.

But it’s a vulnerable position for England to lecture other countries on their levels of racism. Let’s not forget Sterling had to listen to similar barracking at Chelsea earlier this season. A banana skin was thrown at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: was that racist? Can we really say that anti-semitic chants have been completely eradicated in a country where some warped mind came up with the idea that singing about Spurs and a concentration camp was good old harmless terrace fun?

Then there’s the homo­phobic chants which are still occasionally aimed at Brighton’s away support, and the gender-specific terms used whenever a woman running the line makes an offside call that the crowd doesn’t like.

Football grounds in England have come a long way since Cyrille Regis and pals at West Brom hit back, but pretending we are angelic to nations like Montenegro doesn’t quite rub.

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