Raheem Sterling racism: How fan hostility, not cowardice, can help fight abuse in UK

I can’t write about Raheem Sterling and the alleged racist abuse to which he has been subjected from the perspective of a black person. And I don’t know what it is like to be racially abused, whether consciously or subconsciously. I cannot live that experience so why should you read about how I see it?

I know it’s wrong, that goes without saying. But adding another white voice to it is not going to achieve anything new.

That is best left to ethnic minority voices; those who know what it’s like first-hand, and who see things from a much different viewpoint than I do. There have been great things written this week by Stan Collymore, by Darren Lewis, Musa Okwonga and more no doubt.

Those are authentic voices; those are the voices that might not necessarily make you see things from another perspective but at least tell you that another perspective exists.

Think of how preposterous it is that Piers Morgan is inviting Raheem Sterling onto his breakfast television programme for a “fair hearing”. A fair hearing for what? What has Sterling done wrong?

Morgan is unwilling to countenance the suggestion that newspaper and television coverage of young black sports stars in this country could – perhaps – embolden to racists to shout the N-word or “f*cking black c*nt”.

For him, and many more, it’s like no other perspective exists.

And why wouldn’t a racist think that at Stamford Bridge of all places that he could get away with calling a black footballer a “f*cking black c*nt”?

The former Chelsea captain, John Terry, was found to have used those exact words against Anton Ferdinand in a match against Queens Park Rangers in 2011 according to an FA verdict. He was fined and served a four-match ban. Terry was cleared in a criminal trial.

Chelsea’s further punishment of Terry, whatever that might have been, remained under wraps. But he played around another five seasons for the club, as captain, and was given a rousing send off when he finished his career at the Bridge. Whatever the punishment was it can’t have been too bad.

Did Chelsea, then, send a message that this particularly foul racist insult was somehow acceptable if the circumstances around it were nuanced enough?

Although the Sterling abuse took most of the headlines, largely because of the player’s own Instagram response, there is a trend of racist behaviour in the British game. Last week a Tottenham fan threw a banana skin at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his goal for Arsenal. Two Hearts fans have been arrested for the racist abuse directed at Motherwell’s Christian Mbulu.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal

I usually travel to cover games by train. I see things away from the stadium; things that form part of the regular fan’s matchday experience.

On at least two occasions last season I was close enough to hear, first-hand, racist abuse. And this is where I feel a deep sense of shame and personal regret because I didn’t speak up. I didn’t say anything.

The Bystander Effect. It’s been said that all bad men need to triumph is for good men to look on and do nothing.

It shouldn’t be perplexing, and it shouldn’t be a moral conundrum. Stand up, speak up. I didn’t do it. I reasoned that I might be putting myself in danger or else that someone else might speak up instead.

The first time, I was coming back from Rochdale after an FA Cup match against Tottenham last season. The last Spurs fans to leave the town were definitely worse for wear after a day of drinking. I didn’t like being near this particular group.

Out it came.

“Sol, Sol, wherever you may be / you’re on the verge of lunacy / and we don’t give a f*ck if you’re hanging from a tree / you Judas c*nt with HIV.”

I kept my head down and waited for my stop.

After the FA Cup final last season, I took the tube from Wembley Park back towards London. Again, the rush had died down and there was plenty of space in the carriages. Two Chelsea fans got on. They were loud and obnoxious, and they sang.

“Vieira, wo-oh / Vieira, wo-oh / he plays for Arsenal / his mum’s a cannibal.”

There was a black dad with his children just further along. Again, I dithered, wondering if it was my place to say anything. I exited at King’s Cross.

Kick It Out

Those were cowardly acts on my part. The sort of cowardice that emboldens racists and makes them believe their hate is tolerable. It’s not.

After the Chelsea case, I resolved to speak up the next time I heard something. And I will because it will happen again. Those are not the only two examples of public racism that have occurred around British football in the past year. It happens because few of us have the guts to speak up.

We cannot in this context look at football in isolation. Smartphones are intrusive but have proven quite useful in detecting racist behaviour.

There have been numerous examples of black and ethnic minority people being subjected to racist abuse on trains, on planes, on the tube and on buses lately with the perpetrator out in full view for the world to see.

You’ll see people who would probably consider themselves upstanding members of society screaming abuse or making racists comments.

And, simply put, if it’s in football, it’s in society. A football match is just another place where racists can go to express their racism.

I will try harder, and to make the world a more hostile place for racists. Maybe together we might shame them into decency.

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Betting Tips for Today: Goals galore expected as Shakhtar Donetsk host Lyon

Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon are still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League round of 16.

The French side sit in second spot on seven points and they’re 41/20 (3.05) to guarantee that position with three points.

The hosts are two points behind the visitors but would leapfrog them and into the next round with a win in Kharkiv. That’s priced as a 5/4 (2.25) chance with the favourites having won six of their last nine home matches in this competition.

Ismaily Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League 27112018

A draw would still be enough for the Ligue 1 outfit to secure their place in the knockout stages and it’s available at 14/5 (3.80) with the same firm.

Goal backers have found plenty of joy in Champions League Group F this season with every team appearing much more confident on the front foot than at the back. The 10 games played so far have yielded an impressive 42 goals.

These sides played out a 2-2 draw on Matchday One and with plenty still to play for, another high-scoring clash is the logical way to go for bettors.

Shakhtar will have to attack, forcing the issue and have the firepower to do so. The 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was the first time in nine home Champions League outings where the Ukrainians had failed to score at least twice.

Nabil Fekir Lyon Hoffenheim UEFA Champions League 07112018

Their defence though, leaves a lot to be desired. With 15 goals conceded so far Lyon will certainly fancy their chances of getting on the scoreboard especially having netted twice in each of their five matches in the European campaign so far.

While efficient in the final third, Bruno Genesio’s men have yet to keep a clean sheet in that time and look are sure to offer up plenty of opportunities for the hosts to get the result they need.

As such, the 13/10 (2.30) quote from 888Sport about over 3.5 goals looks well worth backing. Both teams to score appears likely based on the recent form and it’s priced at just 21/50 (1.42) but four or more strikes is the way to go for those seeking better potential returns.

Betting Banner - Best BetOver 3.5 goals at 13/10 (2.30) for a 2pt stake with 888Sport

888Sport footer - bet 10 get 30

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Berbatov talks up Man Utd January move for Maguire

Dimitar Berbatov has suggested that Manchester United should look at making a January move for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire.

Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho had been keen to strengthen his defence in the summer, with form and fitness issues having hampered United during the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Mourinho reportedly considered Leicester’s England World Cup star a valid target in summer alongside Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld – but reportedly failed to persude executive vice-charirman Ed Woodward to make a a big-money move for either.

The Portuguese’s desire to add a centre-back has seemingly not abated and United have been linked with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

But Berbatov believes United should go for a player comfortable on the ball and already familiar with the Premier League if they are to make a move in the January transfer window.

And he says that Maguire, 25, would be an ideal candidate.

“It’s always difficult to buy someone that’s really good in the winter window so if you are lucky enough to buy someone then you need to keep in mind how he’s going to integrate with the team,” the Bulgarian told BT Sport .

“If it’s someone coming from a foreign league it can be more difficult than joining from an English team.

“If you’re buying a central defender then you also need to think about who you’re going to partner him with because you could buy a really good player but if it doesn’t work out then that just causes another problem.

“But I think they need someone at the back that’s comfortable on the ball and don’t buckle under pressure even when someone is attacking you.

“You need to be calm, be able to pass the ball into midfield and carry it. I think they need a player like that.

“I was really impressed with Harry Maguire in the World Cup because he was so composed on the ball and I like that quality in a defender because it benefits the whole team.”

United face Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday evening with centre-back Victor Lindelof ruled out and a doubts over the fitness of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly.

Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have also had problems this season with Mourinho turning to midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scot McTominay to plug the gaps at times.

Sixth-placed United have conceded 26 Premier League goals during a troubled campaign, more than any other team in the top six.

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What the hell is up with goal-shy Gabriel Jesus?

Jesus may have walked on water, but around the Etihad Stadium during this current season you are more likely to find him sitting on the bench. After such a scintillating introduction to English football Gabriel Jesus has come down with a chronic case of the goalscoring blues, which has seen him lose ground in Manchester City’s pecking order.

It is hard to decide which of the two defining scenes of City’s painful 2-0 reverse at the hands of Chelsea the past weekend was more excruciating to witness.

There was Gabriel sitting forlornly on the bench, snubbed by Pep Guardiola even in the absence of Sergio Aguero, as the manager opted to go strikerless at Stamford Bridge rather than put his faith in the Brazilian.

Then, there was the lost boy thrown into a losing cause 47 minutes into the game. Starved of quality possession and unable to make his mark, Jesus mustered just two shots, neither of which posed much danger for Chelsea shot-stopper Kepa.

This latest blank marked the Brazil forward’s 11th consecutive Premier League outing without troubling the scorers, with Huddersfield the only side to let him in so far. Indeed, aside from that wonderful hat-trick in the Champions League to destroy Shakhtar Donetsk, Jesus has been a pale shadow of the player that burst onto the scene with such confidence and verve as a teenager less than two years ago.

Jesus’ biggest obstacle to regular first-team football – just four of his 13 league appearances this term have come from the start, while that Huddersfield outing was the sole occasion on which he has completed the full 90 minutes – remains Sergio Aguero.

With 12 goals in 17 games in 2018-19 the Argentine is once more leading the way as Pep’s favoured sole striker, ably assisted by the likes of Raheem Sterling (nine in 18), David Silva (eight in 19) and Riyad Mahrez (seven in 22), the man preferred to Jesus in Aguero’s absence.

What is certain is that Jesus’ commitment has not dipped. The 21-year-old continues to run his heart out in every opportunity he receives for City, and his contribution to the team effort should not be overlooked.

Gabriel Jesus Brazil 2018

But without goals it is hard to see him making a claim for more regular action: his one Premier League goal this season has come from a mammoth 23 shots, while in 2017-18 the youngster averaged just shy of a goal every four attempts. It is clear that he is snatching at chances that he previously converted with ease, with City and also in Brazil colours.

Roberto Firmino and Richarlison are both breathing down his neck for that single centre-forward spot in Tite’s system, while a newly rejuvenated Gabriel Barbosa and, further down the line, teenage sensations Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo could well make their own run for the No. 9 shirt.

In truth one could even chart Jesus’ woes all the way back to the World Cup: handed a starting spot by Tite, he failed to hit the net in Russia as the Selecao bombed out in the last-eight and has subsequently lost ground to Firmino in the team’s plans.

Gabriel Jesus Manchester City 2018-19

There is one man, however, convinced that the former Palmeiras wonderkid can turn it around. “He just needs to relax,” Guardiola told reporters at the start of December after Jesus drew a blank against Bournemouth. “I love his work ethic. I said to him: the work out on the pitch will sustain him. He helps us a lot. I am delighted.

“Football is not for one player the reason why he plays bad. Gabriel is a delight. He’s young, the same as the other ones, he will improve because has the desire to improve and that is important. He helped us a lot. A lot.”

Rotten form in front of goal is part and parcel of the life of an elite striker. All forwards go through difficult patches, including Aguero, whose game was revitalised by the arrival of Pep at the Etihad Stadium.

City fans will be hoping that in the long run the ex-Barca boss will have the same effect on their young Brazilian, who has the perfect chance to return to his best in Wednesday’s Champions League dead rubber against Hoffenheim. For now he is making all the right noises in his fleeting first-team chances, but the goals continue to elude him.

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Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview

Real Madrid have already secured top spot in Champions League Group G and will seek their fifth win in six matches when they host CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Santi Solari’s side will also be after a degree of revenge, having lost 1-0 to the Russians back in October in one of the upsets of the tournament thus far.

CSKA failed to build on that victory, however, and have already been eliminated. Meanwhile, a shock loss to Viktoria Plzen two weeks ago means they have to take something from Spain to stand a chance of playing in the Europa League in the spring.

Game Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow
Date Wednesday, December 12
Time 5:55pm GMT / 12:55pm ET
Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial)

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch


In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .

New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.

US TV channel Online stream
TNT USA fubo TV (7-day free trial)

In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BT Sport 1 and it can be streamed live online using the BT Sport app.

UK TV channel Online stream
BT Sport 1 BT Sport app

Squads & Team News


Position Real Madrid players
Goalkeepers Navas, Courtois, Casilla, Zidane
Defenders Carvajal, Vallejo, Varane, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Reguilon, Odriozola, Adri, Sanchez, Lopez
Midfielders Casemiro, Llorente, Kroos, Modric, Ceballos, Alarcon, Valverde, Seoane, Franchu
Forwards Bale, Vazquez, Benzema, Asensio, Diaz, Junior, Perez

Casemiro is working his way back to fitness after an ankle issue and could make his return in this match, but Toni Kroos is definitely sidelined.

Nacho and Mariano Diaz are also missing.

With top spot in the group already secured, a degree of rotation in the starting XI is likely.

Possible Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Llorente, Ceballos; Vazquez, Benzema, Bale.

Position CSKA Moscow players
Goalkeepers Pomazun, Kyrnats, Akinfeev
Defenders Fernandes, Chernov, Vasin, Nababkin, Magnusson, Schennikov, Becao
Midfielders Vlasic, Dzagoev, Efremov, Sigurdsson, Kuchaev, Bistrovic, Bijol, Makarov, Pukhov, Tiknizyan, Gordyushenko, Akhmetov, Khosonov, Oblyakav
Forwards Chalov, Hernandez, Nishimura, Zhamaletdinov, Zhironkin

CSKA are troubled by a number of injury problems, including star midfielder Alan Dzagoev. Viktor Vasin and Ilzat Akhmetov are also missing.

Rodrigo Becao was stretchered off at the weekend and seems highly unlikely to play any role, but Ivan Oblyakov should return. 

Possible CSKA Moscow starting XI: Akinfeev; Nababkin, Chernov, Magnusson; Fernandes, Bistrovic, Vlasic, Schennikov; Efremov, Sigurdsson; Chalov


Betting & Match Odds


Real Madrid are 2/9 favourites, according to bet365. CSKA Moscow are long shots at 12/1, while a draw is 13/2.

Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.


Match Preview


Nikola Vlasic CSKA Moscow Real Madrid UEFA Champions League 02102018

A second-minute goal from Nikola Vlasic gave CSKA Moscow a stunning 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in October, and though that effort propelled the three-time defending Champions League winners into a state of crisis, they have now come out the other side.

Head coach Julen Lopetegui was a high-profile casualty, but the Spaniards are looking as strong as ever under new boss Santi Solari, who has overseen eight victories in nine matches.

Sunday’s 1-0 win over Huesca may have been described as “ugly” by Solari, but he praised his players for coming through a tricky “test of character”.

With Los Blancos’ Club World Cup campaign to start in a week in the UAE and a vital league match against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, this dead rubber is unlikely to be top of the coach’s agenda.

Due to Madrid’s head-to-head advantage over Roma, their 12 points will be sufficient to seal top spot in the group regardless of what happens at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, but this is a team playing with renewed pride nevertheless.

CSKA, meanwhile, can focus their full attention on this encounter before Russian football shuts down for the winter, beginning again only in March. 

Although Viktor Goncharenko’s side beat bottom side Yenisey 2-1 on Saturday, the performance level was poor, and only a missed penalty from their opponents prevented an embarrassing loss of points.

A positive result at the Bernabeu would quickly render that forgotten, however.

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