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Barnes: Let’s first tackle racism in England

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John Barnes believes English football should tackle the racial problems that keep rearing its ugly head in the modern game before pointing fingers at Montenegro’s fans.

England demolished Montenegro 5-1 in the Euro 2020 qualifying series, but it was marred by racist abuse from the hostile crowd.

Barnes, a former Liverpool and England player feels it’s hypocritical to blame the Montenegro fans when the problem is still rife in England.

“It does not feel any different to how it felt when Raheem Sterling was racially abused by Chelsea fans.” He told Sky Sports.

“Up and down the country every single week at football matches you have black football players being racially abused so why is this any different?

“I think that it is quite hypocritical that we want to talk about Montenegro and say how terrible it is when we have not taken care of the problem here.

“We go to Montenegro once every six months, whereby every week we face it here in droves. So what is more serious? Going to Montenegro once a year or black people facing this every single day of their lives?

“Because it is high profile, we say, ‘let’s do something about it’, but we are really not tackling the issue here.”

Speaking about the solution, the former PFA player of the year talked about tackling it from the grassroots using education and other schemes.

He added: “The solution is to tackle it in society and once we do that it will disappear from all walks of the society of which football is one.

“You can’t say to a football fan, ‘keep your mouth shut on a Saturday, but for the other six days of the week you can do whatever you want’, and then say we are getting rid of racism.

“We have to decide whether we want to get rid of it, or if we don’t want to hear it. All we are doing by passing laws is saying, ‘you can be as racist as you want, but not in a football ground.”