'Racism will never go away' - Wright calls for education and harsh punishments to fight discrimination in football

The retired centre-forward and Gunners legend has shared his thoughts on a serious problem in English football

Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright has spoken out about racism in football, including the influence of social media.

Various instances of racism at football matches have been highlighted in recent seasons, including the abuse suffered by Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling in 2018, while Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Tottenham forward Son Heung-min were also on the receiving end of racism last December.

Anti-discrimination campaign organisation Kick It Out reported a 43% increase in racist abuse at English football matches in the 2018-19 season from the previous season.

The 56-year-old says that new online mediums have provided a platform to showcase racism but admits he does not know what the solution is, despite having suffered racist abuse himself.

"With the emergence of social media, you can see [racism] happening," Wright said on the BBC Radio 4 show ‘Desert Island Discs’. "I don’t think it’s something that’s ever going to go away."

Wright points to education as a starting point, however, whilst also suggesting that more suitable sanctions need to be imposed for those caught exhibiting racist behaviour.

"People feel that if you’ve been a victim of it you’ve got the answers, but you don’t know [what to do].

"You look at people who are accused of racism, they’re older people - people who should know better.

"I still think that education is key and that’s all we can do. But you’re just hoping that more and more people will out it when it happens.

"Then you need the proper kind of discipline and punishment so that people understand that it’s not acceptable."

Wright also spoke about his own education, and how a teacher named Sydney Pigden played a key role in keeping him on the right track which allowed him to succeed in later life.

"I don’t know why [Mr. Pigden] chose me, but he did," Wright continued.

"He gave me responsibility, I used to collect the registers from the teachers, then they made me milk monitor.

"It was really good, I just felt important. He wouldn’t let me play football if he heard I’d been naughty in class.

"He just gave me a sense of feeling like I had some use. He was the greatest man in the world."