John Barnes feels England must solve racism at home before blaming Montenegro
"Because it is high profile, we say, 'let's do something about it', but we are really not tackling the issue here," Barnes told Sky Sports News
By Zinny Boswell
Last Updated: 27/03/19 6:21am
John Barnes says criticism of Montenegro's fans for racially abusing England players is "hypocritical" with discrimination still rife throughout football in the UK.
Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants during Monday's 5-1 win for England in Podgorica, which has been met with an outpouring of calls for UEFA to take action against Montenegro.
Barnes, however, says we must first tackle the issue at home and suggests that by blaming Montenegro we are "absolving ourselves of responsibility for what happens here".
"All we are doing by passing laws is saying, 'you can be as racist as you want, but not in a football ground'."
The former Liverpool and England winger told Sky Sports News: "It does not feel any different to how it felt when Raheem Sterling was racially abused by Chelsea fans.
"Up and down the country every single week at football matches you have black football players being racially abused so why is this any different?
"I think that it is quite hypocritical that we want to talk about Montenegro and say how terrible it is when we have not taken care of the problem here.
"We go to Montenegro once every six months, whereby every week we face it here in droves. So what is more serious? Going to Montenegro once a year or black people facing this every single day of their lives?
"Because it is high profile, we say, 'let's do something about it', but we are really not tackling the issue here."
UEFA: Racist abuse 'a disaster'
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has labelled racist abuse of England players by Montenegro fans "a disaster".
Will stadium bans reduce discrimination?
Barnes said: "Overt racism probably has gone out of the game, but in the last six months you can see what's happening even here in this country.
"If you're talking about making teams play behind closed doors - you've got the high-profile situation of Raheem Sterling at Manchester City - but you go to the League One, League Two and non-league games and you'll hear racist abuse as fans have said.
"But is there a drive to close all of those stadiums or get those teams banned? There is not. Once we then look at Montenegro and these other Eastern European countries and say how terrible it is out there, it absolves us of responsibility for what's happening here.
"Instead of passing laws why don't we try and educate people why they feel the need to be racially abusing people and then we can actually deconstruct the whole idea of why they feel that way rather than just banning and passing laws.
"So laws, yes, I understand the reason why people feel we have to do this, but how many years have we been doing this and nothing has changed. If it has not worked, let's try a different approach."
'Do we want to get rid of racism, or stop hearing it?'
He added: "The solution is to tackle it in society and once we do that it will disappear from all walks of society of which football is one.
"You can't say to a football fan, 'keep you mouth shut on a Saturday, but for the other six days of the week you can do whatever you want', and then say we are getting rid of racism.
"We have to decide whether we want to get rid of it, or if we don't want to hear it. All we are doing by passing laws is saying, 'you can be as racist as you want, but not in a football ground'.
"If you look at the cause of discrimination, it is the same for homosexuals, women and black people. It is the perception of their worth morally, intellectually and socially. If that is the cause then the solution is the same, it is not any different in football than it is in society.
"Society should be taking the lead. What can UEFA do? You have to look at society. Forget about football, football is part of society.
"If we want to come up with a solution to everything we have to tackle the cause of it and not the symptom. The symptom is Montenegro but we have to tackle the cause and then we have to recondition people's minds as to why they feel some people are more worthy than others."