Raheem Sterling hoping to meet FA and Premier League to discuss combating racism in football

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Raheem Sterling has become a central figure in football's fight against racism.

Raheem Sterling would be keen to speak to the Football Association and the Premier League over the summer to work out the next steps in the ongoing efforts to combat racism.

The England and Manchester City forward has said social media boycotts and gestures such as wearing t-shirts during warm-ups are “not enough” and has called for “harder punishments” such as nine-point deductions for racist incidents.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival in New York, Sterling said with City’s domestic treble-winning season now over he would be keen to discuss ways the campaign can be developed.

“You can get caught up with training every day, and games every two, three days, so you don’t really have a lot of time to be out speaking to people,” he said.

“But in my off time and holidays, if I can get around and speak to the Football Association and the people in the Premier League, and see how we can look about doing things better in the future, for sure I’ll be there in person to try and do that.”

The 24-year-old has emerged as a key voice in the campaign against racism for his readiness to speak out on the issue.

After he was allegedly racially abused by spectators at Chelsea in December, Sterling used Instagram to criticise the media for the way they report on black players.

He said he was then contacted by football authorities with ideas about the campaign but did not agree with their approach.

“After the situation at Chelsea they came to me with an idea but I did not agree with the idea,” he said.

“It was a social media blackout. I said I simply don’t agree with what you want to put out. It is a social media post that’s going to happen for one day. In two days’ time it will all be forgotten about.”

In April, the Professional Footballers’ Association launched the #Enough campaign, which saw footballers in England and Wales boycott social media for 24 hours to protest the way the social networks have handled cases of online abuse.

But Sterling has said he wants to see stronger punishments those on the receiving end would not be able to ignore.

“Teams getting (points) deductions, teams getting kicked out… this is when people start taking it seriously,” he said.

“If I go to a football game and I support Manchester United, for example, I don’t want to be the person that lets my team down by saying silly remarks in a stadium.

“If you know your team is going to get deducted nine points and not win the league, you are not going to say these racist remarks even though you shouldn’t have it in your head.

“Fining a club £5000 or a fan £300 doesn’t do anything.”

Although this season has seen a number of incidents in England and abroad, Sterling believes the situation has improved in the last decade.

“Ten years ago it was a lot, lot worse than it is now,” said Sterling, who was named PFA Young Players of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Football of the Year at the end of a campaign in which he scored 25 goals for City.

“It’s starting to get better and people are understanding that they can’t say certain things.”

*Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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Arsenal plan UEFA meeting over Henrikh Mkhitaryan absence in Europa League final

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Arsenal plan to meet with UEFA to express their fury after Henrikh Mkhitaryan decided against playing in the Europa League final over security fears.

The Armenian’s safety was a concern because of the dispute between his country and Azerbaijan, the host nation of next week’s fixture between the Gunners and Chelsea.

Despite receiving assurances aimed at allaying those fears, Mkhitaryan has chosen not to travel to Baku following discussions with the club and his family.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said he respected the “personal” nature of Mkhitaryan’s decision, but conceded it was “bad news” for his team.

But Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham branded the situation “unacceptable” and revealed the club would make the full extent of their anger known to the governing body.

He was quoted as saying by a number of national newspapers: “I struggle to find words for how strongly I feel. We feel it’s unacceptable.

“We don’t feel he can travel and it’s extraordinarily sad. You don’t get a chance to play in major European finals often. Miki has had it taken away from him and it is an extraordinary shame.

“We made our point clearly to UEFA, we have written to them. We will also sit down with them face to face after the final and express how it is unacceptable and how it can never happen again to Arsenal or anyone.”

Mkhitaryan said he was “hurt” to miss the showpiece event.

He tweeted: “It’s the kind of game that doesn’t come along very often for us players and I must admit, it hurts me a lot to miss it.”

Emery revealed he had discussed the issue with Mkhitaryan, whom he said “wants to play with the team but spoke with his family and decided not to go”.

The Spaniard said: “It’s bad news, but we cannot do anything about these issues. It’s a very, very personal decision and we need to respect him. I don’t understand the political problems, but I must respect (his decision).

“I spoke to him. I came from the Basque country, where we had a big political problem there, finishing five or six years ago. This is a very personal decision; I cannot push him to come with us.

“For him and for me, it’s very important to (have his) help with his quality and his capacity, but these issues are out of my hands and I understand 100 per cent.”

UEFA insisted that a “comprehensive security plan” was in place for Mkhitaryan, while the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan branded his decision not to play “unwarranted” and said the host country had “provided all the necessary guarantees” to ensure his safety.

An AFFA spokesperson said: “We very much regret this unwarranted decision taken, as we understand, collectively by Arsenal, the player and his family. Whilst we recognise the right to make a personal decision not to travel, we would like to reiterate that as the host country Azerbaijan has provided all the necessary guarantees required by UEFA to ensure the personal safety of Mr Mkhitaryan.

“There is no reason whatsoever to put in question the seriousness of these guarantees provided by Azerbaijan. Over the past decade a large number of Armenian athletes have taken part in various international sports events in Azerbaijan without any issues. Finally, we believe that this regretful decision will not affect in any manner the quality and the attraction of this great match. We look forward to welcoming both teams in Baku shortly.”

Mkhitaryan’s absence, in addition to that of the injured Aaron Ramsey, who is departing for Juventus, increases Mesut Ozil’s hopes of starting at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

Like Ramsey, Petr Cech will not be at Arsenal next season, having taken the decision to retire at the age of 37, but Emery hinted that, despite losing his first-team place to Bernd Leno, the veteran goalkeeper is likely to start.

“Ozil has very big experience in Europe, playing with his national team, important games,” he said. “We are preparing for every player to be ready for the final. He’s working, he’s trying, he’s playing well and we need him.

“(Cech’s) here because he deserves to be here. His commitment to Arsenal is big. He was playing the last (Europa League) matches, perfect matches, with big performances. I want to enjoy with him this final in his career.”

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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See Arsenal boss Unai Emery react to Henrikh Mkhi­taryan absence for Europa League final

David Cooper 22/05/2019
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Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Arsenal celebrates a goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be involved in the Europa League final after Arsenal confirmed he would not travel with the squad.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery said that he respects midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s decision not travel to Azerbaijan for the UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea.

“It’s bad news, but we can’t do anything for these issues. It’s very personal and we need to respect him,” Emery said on Tuesday

The Armenia international’s safety was a concern due to the dispute between his country and host nation Azerbaijan.


There have been no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the conflict in the Nagorono-Karabkh region.








Emery’s sentiment was echoed by players Alex Iwobi and Stephan Lichtsteiner with both eager to win the club’s first Europa League title for their absent team-mate.



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