Gareth Bale says banning teams may be ‘best thing to do’ about racism from fans

Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling had drink cups thrown at him after scoring for England in Hungary

Wales captain Gareth Bale says banning teams from competitions if their supporters continue to racially abuse players may be the “best thing to do”.

Bale called for strong punishment when teams are found guilty, and said he would be willing to walk off the pitch if a team-mate was racially abused.

“The action needs to be taken to stop it,” the Real Madrid forward said.

“The easiest thing is … whether you ban the fans from the stadium or if they keep repeatedly doing it, which seems to be what is happening, then you ban the country from the competition.

“I think it kicks it out straight away. If that country keeps making these horrible gestures, then maybe the best thing to do is to get rid of them, give them a suspension and hopefully they will learn their lesson that way.”

England players Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were racially abused during Thursday’s 4-0 win over Hungary in a World Cup qualifier in Budapest.

The visiting players were also pelted with objects in the second half, and a flare was thrown on the pitch by the home fans.

England condemned the abuse as “completely unacceptable” and football’s world governing body Fifa said on Friday that disciplinary proceedings had been opened “following analysis of the match reports”.

“It is frustrating,” said Bale. “I don’t know why they launch these investigations that take so long. It is clear to see.

“I really don’t get why there needs to be such a big investigation. It is clear that it happened.”

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale and Wales face Belarus in a World Cup qualifier in Russia on Sunday

Bale spoke earlier this year about boycotting social media if more was not done to combat “toxic” abuse after his Wales team-mates Ben Cabango and Rabbi Matondo were racially abused on Instagram.

And he said he would support players in walking off the pitch if they were racially abused during a game.

“I’d be fully for it,” he said. “Football qualifiers are important, but these matters come way above football.

“If it happened to any of us and we decided to leave the pitch because we feel we weren’t getting the protection or being treated the right way – if the only way to get a response was to walk off – then, yes, I’d be fully for it.

“It’s the right thing to do and it’s more important than football.

“We haven’t had too many issues but we’d have that discussion if it happened and we’d all agree on it as we’re a team that sticks together.

“If anyone is being targeted, we’ll do the right thing.”

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