'We would walk off' - Man City boss Guardiola backs player action against racism

Pep Guardiola Raheem Sterling Manchester City Watford 09032019
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager says he is not opposed to taking direct action when confronted with abuse from the stands

Manchester City mananger Pep Guardiola says he would support his team walking off the pitch if players were targeted with racist abuse.

Raheem Sterling was subjected to racist chanting from home supporters when England played in Montenegro this week.

The City forward, 24, spoke out in strong terms about how the football authorities should handle such incidents following his team's 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win.

And his club manager has joined Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate in supporting his stance.

When asked if he would back his players leaving the field of play in protest in the face a similar incident, Guardiola said: "We could do that.

"Football is a strong weapon to defend the principles of humanity. You said you can’t mix football and politics - that’s not true.

"We would do it, yes. I’m not alone in the club, I would have to involve the club and my captain and have to decide, but why not?"

The Spaniard believes players and managers should act and speak out whenever they encounter racist behaviour.

"The situation changes when you do something," he added. "When Raheem expresses what he expresses, that’s good.

Raheem Sterling England 2019

"I think in Europe, not [just] in football, it is getting worse, of course. It’s a concern - I’m a human being, it’s not very nice."

Sterling and fellow black England player Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea spoke out after England's win.

The ex-Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers man, who has been targetted for abuse previously, said football's authorities must make "a proper stance".

He told the BBC: "A couple of idiots ruined a great night and it is a real sad thing to hear.

"It's a real sad situation we are talking about after a great win.

"I don't think it was just one or two people that heard it, it was the whole bench. There should be a real punishment for this, not just the two or three people who were doing it - it needs to be a collective thing.

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"This place holds 15,000. The punishment should be, whatever nation it is, if your fans are chanting racist abuse then it should be the whole stadium so no-one can come and watch.

"When the ban is lifted, the fans will think twice. They all love football, they all want to come and watch their nation so it will make them think twice before doing something silly like that."

UEFA has confirmed disciplinary proceedings have been opened against Montenegro in the wake of racist chanting which marred the clash with England.