Sterling and Barnes
John Barnes feels Raheem Sterling is currently one of societies most influential people and would be keen on meeting with the Manchester City star.
Just like Sterling today at Manchester City, 30 years ago Barnes was the star man leading a title charge with Liverpool. And just like Sterling today, in the late 80s Barnes endured racist taunts while playing.
Their shared experiences bring them together but the former Liverpool captain believes Sterling has a platform to bring about great change, something he could only have dreamed of back in his playing days.
Barnes said “I would like to have a conversation with Raheem, back in my day if we felt the same way as Raheem, we weren’t allowed to express it.
“Of course now, times have changed. I wish I was around now (to) actually make a real difference in the fight against discrimination. Not just from a racial point of view but from a homophobic and sexist point of view. I think in that respect high profile sportsmen are extremely important.”
Sterling and his England team-mates were subject to racial abuse after their 5-1 away win in Montenegro last week and the winger suggested that stadium bans should be introduced to try and combat it.
However Barnes disagrees and thinks that to tackle the problem, the offenders first need to be educated if progression is going to be made.
“I don’t believe closing stadiums and walking off pitches is the answer. If you are going to put your head above the parapet and start talking about it, be truthful.
“From my perspective, the answer is only through education and letting people know why it is wrong to be racist. Racism is ideology. You don’t individualise racism”.
Barnes has never backed away from addressing where he believes society’s efforts to tackle discrimination are failing but has said he would not accept a job in football governance from The FA or Kick It Out if he was offered one.