'It's an absolute joke!' - Rapinoe accuses football of failing players over racism

The United States star branded the fine handed to Bulgaria following racist abuse at a home game as "a joke" and has urged others to take a stand
The United States star branded the fine handed to Bulgaria following racist abuse at a home game as "a joke" and has urged others to take a stand

Women's World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has called on clubs, officials and fan groups to do more to eradicate racism from football.

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the United States defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, before collecting the Best FIFA Women's Player award in September.

The 34-year-old highlighted the €75,000 (£65,000) fine given to Bulgaria by UEFA last month following evidence of racist abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifier with England as an example of where the sport is continuing to fall short.

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Bulgaria were also ordered to play two games behind closed doors - the second of which is suspended for two years - in a decision Rapinoe branded "an absolute joke".

"We're not going to accept this. This is not something that's going to be in our game," she told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"So I feel like all of the clubs and the presidents and fan groups and everyone, you know, frankly are failing these players.

"If you're ever caught doing anything racist you should be banned for life. That's just the end of it. I mean £65,000 is an absolute joke.

"For me I'm just like, make it super extreme so it's damaging to the team, to the federation, so it's damaging financially."

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling played in England's recent qualifier in Sofia and has been praised for speaking out about racism.

Rapinoe has urged others to follow his example.

"I need all the players on Raheem's team, all the players in the Premier League and in the leagues abroad to make it their problem because it really is everybody's issue," she said.

Racism has also reared its ugly head at club level on various occasions this season, most recently in Serie A.

During a 2-1 defeat at Verona on Sunday, Brescia striker Mario Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands out of frustration after being targeted with monkey chants by a section of supporters.

Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku was also subjected to abuse at Cagliari in September, but Italian football has not been alone in dealing with issues of racism.

Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba were victims of online abuse at the start of the campaign, as was Chelsea's Tammy Abraham after he missed a penalty in the UEFA Super Cup final.

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