LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool’s teenage forward Rhian Brewster said he has been the target of racial abuse while representing the Premier League club and England since the age of 12.
Brewster told the Guardian he and other black players were subject to racial epithets and monkey chants in UEFA Youth League matches and when playing for England’s Under-17 World Cup-winning team.
“I don’t think UEFA takes this thing seriously. They don’t really care. That’s how it feels anyway, like it’s been brushed under the carpet,” the 17-year-old said on Friday.
Brewster described being racially abused by players during UEFA Youth League matches against Sevilla and Spartak Moscow, and though the incidents were reported to match officials, either no action was taken or the consequences were relatively mild.
Spartak Moscow were ordered to close 500 seats and to display a banner with the words “Equal Game” on it after fans were found to have made monkey chants at him.
“It’s not really a punishment, is it? It was nothing really, just a slap on the wrist … it should have been more, a whole stadium ban,” Brewster said.
“I love the game. I’m never going to stop loving it. It’s just disappointing to know that it’s still in the game,” he added.
“If it wasn’t in the game it would be so much better.”
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised Brewster’s courage.
“Obviously, it happens all the time and I’m happy enough that he has been brave enough to do what he did,” the German told a news conference.
“It’s such an important thing. I cannot believe that people still have these thoughts in their mind.”
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)