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England’s Sterling speaks out on racial abuse in Montenegro

Montenegro v England - UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier

PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO - MARCH 25: Raheem Sterling of England celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships Group A qualifying match between Montenegro and England at Podgorica City Stadium on March 25, 2019 in Podgorica, Montenegro. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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Raheem Sterling did his best to put a spin on the racist abuse his England team received during a 5-1 defeat of Montenegro in EURO 2020 qualifying on Monday when he took to Twitter to post a monkey emoji and “silence the racists” of Podgorica.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

But he expounded on his thoughts to reporters after the match, saying that UEFA has to come down harder than ever on those who have the audacity to spew their hatred from the seats towards opposing fans.

Sterling says the only solution is empty stadiums: Punish the whole country for the actions of a few. From

“You’ve got to make it harder - you’ve got to punish all the fans so they can’t come to the games, you’ve got to do something that’s really going to make them think twice. Because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them and make them think twice about it.

“I can only, we can only, the FA can only do so much. We’ve got to leave this to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it. Just banning one or two people is not going to change anything, even to our fans I’d say the exact same thing.”

He’s right, though, isn’t he? Too many will condone the racism as something less heinous or even inoffensive, and others won’t speak up for fear of retribution.

But sadly it may take fans knowing their inaction will cost their team in atmosphere and advantage -- and federations knowing their inaction will cost them money -- in order to spur change.

Follow @NicholasMendola