England's Anderson calls for harsh penalties for racist abuse

Former England defender Viv Anderson has called for more stringent action against clubs and countries whose fans racially abuse players.

Viv Anderson was the first black footballer to play for the England national team.   -  Getty Images

Clubs or countries whose fans racially abuse players should be fined millions, docked points or even expelled from competitions, Viv Anderson, the first black footballer to play for England said.

The 62-year-old former fullback lambasted UEFA's decision to fine Montenegro's football authorities 20,000 euros ($22,400) for their fans' racial abuse of England players, including Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, in a Euro 2020 qualifier in March.

Anderson, an integral part of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest side that won two European Cups and went on to play for Manchester United and Arsenal, said unless there was a real deterrent racism would not be quelled at football matches.

“If a fine is a million pounds, you dock points and chuck the team out of the competition the associations will soon wake up and go we need to do something about this,” said Anderson, speaking at the Sport Resolutions Annual Conference 2019 in London last week.

“By fining Montenegro 20,000 euros that's actually saying 'we accept what they are doing, just get on with it'.

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“There has to be a serious deterrent. If you fine them millions, ban them and dock points, see how quickly it is remedied.”

Anderson, who went on to win 30 caps for England, drew a comparison with the punishment for acid attacks in Britain.

“When one man got 20 years (in December 2017) for an attack in a club, there have not been many acid crimes since then,” said Anderson.

He says is it not enough for players to leave the pitch in protest -- administrators should take the lead if their players are racially abused.

“You can't have teams and players walk off the pitch. It has to come from the top,” he said.

“Whoever runs Tottenham says to Harry Kane if that happens on the field you have the authority to take the team off.

“Same with the FA and other governing bodies - they say whatever repercussions come from that, we will deal with it.”

Anderson, whose 12-year-old son Freddie has caught the football bug and is a member of the Manchester City Academy, admires the manner in which City forward Sterling and Tottenham defender Rose have spoken out about racism.

“Them speaking out can only be good,” said Anderson.

“My professional mind would be thinking, (if I were) Raheem Sterling, I only want to win the league or if I were Danny Rose to play in the Champions League semi-finals.

“But fair play to them, they came out and made a point and have done it very well.”

raheem sterling

Raheem Sterling was the subject of racist abuse when England played Montenegro   -  Getty Images

 

- 'Crying shame' -

Anderson -- who has not worked in football since 2001 after seven years as assistant manager to Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough -- says he hopes players like Sterling and Rose stay in the game after retirement despite threats from Rose, in particular, to quit the game over the issue of racist abuse.

“It would be a crying shame if you have Rose saying they want to get out of the game,” he said.

“You need people like them as role models to get to the next level.

“The likes of me, Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham and all the others who came beforehand proved we can do it on the playing field.

“The next step up is as managers and administrators.”

Anderson, who runs an app which looks after retired sportsmen and women, experienced racism when he was a raw 17-year-old warming up as a substitute for Forest.

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Carlisle fans threw apples, bananas and pears at him -- Clough told him to respond by defiantly picking them up.

However, Anderson says he would not have dreamed of speaking out publicly like Sterling.

“I could not have done it 40 years ago, it was not acceptable. Nobody would have taken you seriously and (coaches) would not have picked you,” he said.

“I would have ended up working in Tesco's (supermarket) or something like that.”

“Mr Clough said all those years ago, if you let people like that dictate to you, you aren't going to make yourself a career.”

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