LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02:  General view outside the stadium ahead of the UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg match between Arsenal and Valencia at Emirates Stadium on May 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Mido on tackling racism in football
01:59 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Former Egypt international Mido says players leaving the field of play even if they’ve suffered racist abuse from fans is “the worst thing you can do.”

Mido’s comments come amid renewed pressure on football governing bodies to tackle the issue of racism in the sport after a number of high profile incidents.

Most recently, fans of Italian football club Lazio chanted racist abuse at AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and, last month, players of the England national team were abused during a match against Montenegro.

UEFA announced on Friday that Montenegro would play its next home match behind closed doors as punishment.

“I still think that a player should never leave the pitch if racist chants happen,” Mido, 36, told CNN Sport, when asked what he deemed to be the correct course of action for player to take.

“Score goals, try to stop them by playing well and win.”

Former professional footballer Mido says players should not walk off the pitch due to racist chants.

READ: Mohamed Salah: UK police investigate ‘dangerous and disturbing’ fan chants

‘You need punishment’

The striker, who made 94 appearances in the English Premier League, revealed he experienced racism “many times” during his playing career at Middlesbrough, England, and believes nothing much has changed since he left the club 10 years ago.

He also called upon the Football Association (FA), English football’s governing body, to hold clubs responsible for the behavior of their fans.

“I don’t think the FA is doing enough to stop racism,” said Mido. “I know a lot of campaigns are coming out but campaigns are not enough, you need punishment.

“If someone goes to the stadium and starts racist chants then the club needs to be punished as well. If the club is punished, then believe me, it would stop.”

The FA has a number of schemes which it hopes will “eradicate” racism in football, while the EPL launched the “No Room for Racism” campaign, which it says demonstrates its “continued commitment to equality.”

Raheem Sterling (L) was honoured for his fight against racism in football at the BT Sport Industry Awards.

READ: Lazio fans hang pro-Mussolini banner and make fascist salutes

Sterling example

Mido says he’s been inspired by the character shown by England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

The 24-year-old Sterling has spoken out on the racism both he and his fellow teammates have experienced and has become an unofficial spokesperson in the fight.

He was presented with the Integrity and Impact Award at the BT Sport Industry Awards on Thursday for his role in tackling discrimination.

Despite Sterling confessing that he “didn’t mean to be a leader”, Mido wants other players to follow his example.

“I’m really proud of Sterling. To see someone stand up for the cause and take responsibility. It’s something that we want to see players doing,” he said.

“He’s been brilliant, the way he has developed as a character has been brilliant through the the years. It’s amazing to see a guy like him taking responsibility.”

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England players suffer racism in Montenegro
01:12 - Source: CNN

On Monday, Sterling fronted a campaign led by UK newspaper The Times, calling for the footballing authorities to change the way in which it tackles racism, as well as demanding stronger sanctions for those found guilty of the abuse.

In his own article as part of the launch of the action plan, Sterling wrote: “I don’t want the next generation to suffer like me.”

In its response to The Times’ manifesto the FA said that it agreed that there needed to be “radical change” at the top.

“In 2018 The FA launched its equality, diversity and inclusion plan, ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ where we set out clear targets, as the manifesto requests, for BAME coaches, employees and leaders,’ said English football’s governing body.

“We have set ourselves the target to reach 16% BAME employees by 2021 [from 13%t] and 11% in leadership positions [from 5%].”