John Barnes in heated debate over racism at the World Cup in Russia

first_imgJohn Barnes entered a heated debate on talkSPORT on Tuesday night over the potential racial abuse players may face at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.The former England, Liverpool and Watford winger phoned into the Sports Bar to join the discussion and insisted he would ‘never walk off the field’ if he was targeted by fans.Barnes was responding to a suggestion from The Times’ chief football writer Henry Winter that England’s stars should take a stand against FIFA and leave the pitch should they hear racist heckles and chants from the stands at any stage of the competition.“It would be nice, but naive, to think that FIFA will confront any racism at the World Cup with significant sanctions,” Winter wrote in his column on Tuesday.“If England players hear racist abuse, they should shame FIFA, the hosts and the bigots by taking direct action, by leaving the field, even in defiance of the FA’s polite but weak “protocol”.Winter’s remarks formed the basis of a debate hosted by Sports Bar host Jason Cundy and Daily Mirror journalist Darren Lewis on Tuesday night, and Barnes called into the show to have his say.Asked if he would walk off the pitch if he was racially abused by spectators, the 79-capped former Three Lions star said: “Listen, I’m from a different generation – I would never walk off the field.“I would never let and ignorant person affect me in that way.“But obviously times have changed“And it also depends on what you consider racist abuse to be. We know that if you hear a whole stadium booing when a black player gets the ball is that racial abuse? It’s not, because it’s booing and they are well within their rights to boo.“Aren’t you allowed to boo players?“However, that can be construed as racial abuse.“I would say that if I hear one person, I’m not walking off. I would never walk off the pitch, end of story, and I can’t tell the players to walk off.”Barnes also said banning fans who are found to have racially abused players is not the long-term answer to a problem which has plagued football across the world for generations.“Racism exists, education is the only way,” he added.“Just banning people is not the answer because they will always find ways of letting you know they are racist without it being illegal.”Listen to the debate from Tuesday night’s Sports Bar with John Barnes IN FULL abovelast_img read more

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