(Reuters) – The Premier League will welcome discussions with Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and other players to tackle racism in the game, the league said on Thursday.
Sterling, 24, who is leading the fight against racism in soccer, said on Tuesday that he hoped to speak to officials at England’s Football Association and the top flight during the close season about combating the problem.
“Raheem took part in our No Room for Racism campaign and we would welcome the opportunity to talk to him, and other players, about discrimination in football,” the Premier League said in a statement.
“Developing our work in this area is a priority for the Premier League.”
Last season, Sterling had accused sections of the British media of fuelling racism with negative portrayals of young black players.
Sterling also encountered racist abuse during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro in March, while there have been other cases in English soccer in recent months.
The Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year has called for clubs to be given automatic nine-point deductions and ordered to play three games behind closed doors if their fans are guilty of racist behaviour.
“The Premier League and our clubs agree that while good work has been undertaken, more needs to be done to promote inclusion and diversity across football and to ensure BAME fans and players are supported,” the Premier League statement added.
“Together, we’re also committed to improving pathways to encourage more people from different backgrounds to take up coaching, refereeing and administrative roles in the sport.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)