Jurgen Klopp has offered his support to the cause of former Liverpool star Raheem Sterling, with the Manchester City winger having been subjected to alleged racist abuse during a clash with Chelsea.
He was strong enough to walk away from the incident without reacting, but the issue of racism in sport and across British society has risen to the fore once more.
Klopp is pleased to see offenders being singled out and punished and has hailed Sterling’s handling of a situation that has thrust him back under a media spotlight.
The German coach told reporters: “I watched the game and I think I saw the situation where he went for the corner and a few guys where shouting.
“I didn’t hear, I don’t know if it was possible to, but I thought his reaction was just brilliant. You saw his face. He gave the right response not to react to these people.
“They don’t deserve any reaction, they don’t deserve any respect. I am obviously not surprised that these things still happen and they will not stop only because we talk about them, but I like the fact that we put the finger on it and say 'you cannot say what you want'.
“We had similar situations in Germany and other countries, Italy with [Kevin Prince] Boateng when he stopped the game because of the things people shouted from the stands.
“There need to be punishments for things like this. As long as people are silly enough to do this, they need to be punished for it, that’s how it is.
“What I like is, I am sure 95 per cent of people are not like this so we should try to find the right amount of attention for them. Punish them but do not talk too much about them because they do not deserve that we talk about them.”
Sterling has received widespread support on the back of the abuse he received in west London, both for his reaction at the time and for his willingness to raise awareness of the issues he has to put up with.
He posted on social media in the aftermath of the incident, while referencing the coverage City team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden have received for recent property purchases - with the former having it pointed out that he has "never started a Premier League match" while latter is described as having "set up a future" when buying a house for his mother.
“You have two young players starting out their careers - both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are.
“But look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player.
“I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded, this young black kid is looked at in a bad light, which helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour.”
Leading figures from across the sporting world, both inside the Kick It Out campaign and from further afield, have aired their support for Sterling and condemned those who continue to make racism a subject of social debate in the 21st century.