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'Society needs to grow up' - Sterling demands an end to racial abuse in football

3:09 PM SGT 8/9/19
Raheem Sterling England 2019
The 24-year-old says supporters need to recognise football players as human beings as they continue to be targeted by racists across Europe

Raheem Sterling say it is time for society to "grow up" and stamp out racism amid the ongoing abuse directed at players.

There have been a number of incidents of players being subjected to racial abuse in recent weeks, with the likes of Sterling and England team-mate Marcus Rashford being targeted on social media, while Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was the victim of Cagliari fans during a Serie A game.

Although the incidents have been condemned by many figures in football, a group of Inter fans reacted to the Lukaku incident by defending Cagliari supporters from charges of racism, insisting it is not a "real problem" in Italy and urging the Belgian striker to take it as a sign of respect.

Several players have spoken out in the wake of recent attacks, as Rashford said he believes the fight against racism is “going backwards”, while the likes of Manchester United team-mate Chris Smalling, Watford striker Troy Deeney and Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi have all called for it to end.

And England winger Sterling is shocked that the issue continues to affect the game and urged fans to treat footballers as human beings.

"It's easy to say what happens next but there's a lot of people behind a computer screen," the 24-year-old Manchester City star told Sky Sports.

"Those are the ones that are disappointing and feel they can get away with stuff like this.

"We are in 2019 and we're still talking about this. I can't say I have the answer to stop it but as a society we need to nail down on this.

"The people doing it need to wake up and understand it's a new era and discrimination is not something anybody should face.

"We need to grow up as a society and realise we're only out here doing our jobs. We are human beings and we have feelings.

"It's a touchy subject but I can't tell you I've got the exact answer. But as a society we need to do better and appreciate each other more."