Footballers are suffering horrific racist abuse on the pitch and online because punishments are “not tough enough”, Watford captain Troy Deeney has said.
In an interview with ITV News, the striker blasted UEFA’s three-step protocol for tackling abuse during games and said abuse he has received has affected his family life.
The 31-year-old spoke candidly about the abuse he receives after games, including being sent monkey emojis.
It comes after Watford FC reported racist abuse directed at defender Christian Kabasele to Hertfordshire Police earlier this week.
Deeney said: ““It impacts people’s lives, it impacts their partners. My partner is pregnant at the moment as well so you can imagine the stresses that she’s going through.
“The monkey emojis, all of that stuff its good for her. But for me personally, I can’t do anything other than take it.”
Both UEFA and the FA have come under increased criticism for seemingly failing to tackle the problem of racism in football following a spate of incident in recent weeks.
During England’s European qualifier against Bulgaria last month, the game had to be stopped by the referee twice after fans made monkey chants from the stands.
Some Bulgarian supporters were also spotted doing Nazi salutes.
Bulgaria was ordered to play two competitive matches behind closed doors and fined £65,000 following the game.
The punishment was widely criticised, with anti-racism charity Kick It Out saying UEFA had “missed an opportunity” to send a message that the abuse was unacceptable.
Deeney added: “The punishment isn’t tough enough. The three-strike rule at the minute is, ‘please stop. I’ve told you once, now please stop again, and then really, really please stop’.
“When is it going to be enough is enough? You don’t accidentally say a [racist term]. You don’t accidentally turn around and say, ‘I’m going to say X, Y and Z.”
“In the heat of the moment people can say a frustrated thing, but it might be a swear word. You don’t turn around and go, ‘you are X,Y, Z’, I hope your family die.’"
Haringey Borough players walked off the pitch in their FACup match against Yeovil Town after their goalkeeper allegedly suffered racist abuse from away supporters two weeks ago.
Deeney, who has played almost 350 games for Watford, has had to turn comments off online because of the abuse he suffered following an FA Cup match last year.
Watford has since signed up to an initiative with Hertfordshire Police, to combat discrimination their players may face, which led to them reporting abuse directed at Kabasele.
Deeney added: “What’s going to happen soon, I feel, if a player does get racially abused and he turns around and whacks that person? The what?
“I guarantee that player gets in more trouble than the person that did it [racist abuse]. I’m willing to bet my house on that.
“Why should it be okay for the aggressor the people that are literally getting on Instagram and Twitter, and Facebook saying this and that,and you have to take it?
An FA spokeswoman said: "The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and encourages any participant who has been subjected to abuse to report it immediately to the match referee.
“Once reported, the referee will follow the set procedure of alerting the club’s safety officer and the relevant authorities to ensure the matter is dealt with swiftly.
“The FA investigates all forms of discriminatory abuse, at any level of the game,working closely with our partners at Kick It Out."