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Best ‘sickened’ by Sterling abuse

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Clyde Best said he is dismayed that racism still exists in English football, after claims Manchester City's Raheem Sterling was racially abused by Chelsea fans during a Premier League match last weekend.

Sterling, born in Jamaica before moving to London aged 5, has also accused certain British newspapers of fuelling racism in the game.

The England forward took to Instagram to express his concerns about how differently white and black players were portrayed in the media.

Former black players like John Barnes, Paul Ince and Ashley Cole, a former Chelsea defender, have spoken out in support of Sterling after he was allegedly subjected to racial abuse from a 60-year-old Chelsea supporter at Stamford Bridge.

The fan, who has been banned from the ground along with three others while investigations by the club continue, has apologised for his behaviour.

Best, who experienced horrific racial abuse at grounds after joining West Ham United 50 years ago said more still needs to be done to stamp it out.

“It's sickening really, you would think people are trying to change but the more we speak about it the more it doesn't change,” Best told The Royal Gazette.

“It's a shame, I agree with a lot of the players that, if the club continues to allow that, you have to hit them where it hurts. If it means playing with an empty stadium for a game or two, or deducting points from them, so be it.

“It is 50 years now since I first went there and this stuff is still going on; it's embarrassing. You look at the two boys [Sterling and City team-mate Tosin Adarabioyo] who the media were giving stick to because they bought their mothers' houses — that's ridiculous. This is what we tell young people to do, to look after your parents.”

During his heyday, playing as a forward for West Ham from 1968 to 1976, Best was one of only a few black players in the top flight of English football when racial abuse was common. Best, 67, said he had hoped that those dark days were largely over.

“It annoys me, especially today, because I thought we had come a long way, but it seems like we are going backwards,” Best said. “Like I tell them all the time, the ball doesn't know what colour you are when you kick it and put it in the back of the net.

“When you look at the players of colour who are playing right now, we have to grow up, mature and aspire to do better. It's embarrassing to see the top league in the world still having stuff like this going on.

“We condemn it when it was going on in the Eastern Bloc countries, and we have to condemn it now that it is still going on in England.

“Fifa, I think, needs to do more, more than putting Kick Racism Out on a placard. If we can do that, it is going to be better for families going to games. It can't be a good thing when you go to play and people are throwing racial slurs at you.

“The game belongs to all of us, supposedly. I just hope that one day, once and for all, we don't have that in England any more. It is sad that in 2018 we're still talking about racism in football. I must applaud Raheem Sterling because he handled it in the right manner. He did superbly by not getting involved in it on the field.

Sterling was named as the Premier League's Footballer of the Month for November yesterday. “At the end of the day his football speaks for itself,” Best said.

Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, praised Sterling for his decision to speak out against the press for holding black players to double standards.

“Raheem said it perfectly, he is an incredible person, an incredible human being,” Guardiola said yesterday.

“Racism is everywhere, it's not just in football. We have to fight to make a better future for everyone, not just in England but everywhere. I appreciate what Chelsea did and if it happened in my club we would do the same.”

Rising above: Raheem Sterling, who was allegedly subjected to racist abuse by Chelsea fans last weekend, takes a breather during Manchester City's 2-1 win at home to Hoffenheim at the Etihad Stadium yesterday (Photograph by Dave Thompson/AP)
Clyde Best vies for the ball with Arsenal's Frank McClintock, left, and Pat Rice during his heyday with West Ham United

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Published December 13, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 12, 2018 at 8:48 pm)

Best ‘sickened’ by Sterling abuse

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