The West Ham striker says he isn’t affected by abuse from the stands, but that harsher punishments have to be introduced
West Ham forward Michail Antonio says deducting clubs points is the only way to curb the increase in racist abuse in football stadiums.
Discrimination has been on the rise in football stadiums in recent years, with Sunday’s clash between Tottenham and Chelsea marred by abuse allegedly directed towards Antonio Rudiger and Heung-min Son.
Some clubs have issued lifelong bans to fans found guilty of racist abuse at matches – but Antonio, 29, says that isn’t enough of a deterrent.
“I feel the FA, the PFA and all the governing bodies need to deal with it harder,” he told the Guardian.
“Punishing the person themselves is never going to deal with things. The only way for this to stop is for the team to be punished.”
Antonio feels the epidemic will only be stopped if fans are motivated to prevent their fellow supporters from racially abusing players.
With the financial might of the Premier League, he doesn’t believe a fine would be enough – and that deducting points is the only way to go.
“Then the people start to deal with it themselves,” he explained.
“It’s at the stage where if you deduct points – [not] fines because clubs will pay fines, it’s not a problem, they’re making billions – then the fans standing next to the [perpetrating] fan are going to stop them from doing it.
“Now it’s affecting them. But them doing their monkey chants and them being racist now, it’s only affecting the person themselves.
“When it starts affecting the club everybody’s not going to do it.”
Antonio was also keen to stress that instances of racist abuse reflect more on the person giving it out than the person it is directed at.
“Racism doesn’t affect me,” he said. “I’ve realised now that racism is down to the person doing it. It doesn’t affect my life.
“You calling me anything doesn’t affect my life. I’m still going to go home and give my Mrs a kiss, give my kids a cuddle.
“You come to me and punch me in my face I’m going to protect myself. Other than that, it’s nothing.
“I’ve had people shout in my face trying to irritate me. I go: ‘I’m not here to fight, I’m here to love.’”