Paul Ince thinks it would have been “easy” for Raheem Sterling to jump into the crowd – like Eric Cantona did playing for Manchester United – after the Manchester City winger allegedly suffering racial abuse from Chelsea fans.
The England international was subject to the alleged abuse during Saturday’s Premier League game at Chelsea in which City lost the match 2-0.
Sterling responded to the incident on social media by accusing the British press of helping to “fuel racism” by their portrayal of young, black footballers.
And Ince thought the 24-year-old handled himself like a “man” and it was “fantastic” how Sterling dealt with the situation.
“To be fair to Raheem, he helped it [the situation]. It would have been easy to jump into the crowd, like [Eric] Cantona did [versus Crystal Palace]. It really would have,” Ince told Goal. “It shows now that he is grown up, it shows that the penny has dropped. It shows he is a man, it shows he has gone from a kid to a man.
“The way he dealt with that situation, it was fantastic. To deal with it and not react to it and get on with the game was brilliant. I have had so many phone calls since Saturday asking ‘do you want to talk about Raheem’? ‘Do you want to talk about this racism stuff’?
“Yes, it needs to be said from someone like me. I have a voice in it. The press, FA, Premier League, Football League, the crowds and fans have done so well to stamp this racism out. We have come a long way since the 1970s and 80s but I feel that we got complacent with it in the last few years.
“You are never going to stamp out racism completely anyway. It doesn’t matter who it is against, what religion or creed, it doesn’t matter. Racism is racism and maybe we took our foot off the gas a little bit. Every now and again you get a situation where it rears its ugly head again.
“It is out there now because it happened to Raheem, but it is still going on in the lower leagues. It is not just in the Premier League, it is going on in the lower leagues. When we think we have done what we need to do with this racism stuff, we need to actually think that it is still there and it still needs to be stamped out.
“It is a minority, let’s get this right. Let’s also think about what he has done as a player and how he has improved from this year to last year. You can see it, you can see him going from a boy to a man.
“He is doing things the right way, making the right decisions and he looks happy in his life. Irrespective of what happened on Saturday, he looks happy with his life and when you are happy, you enjoy your football.”
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