Sunderland legend Gary Bennett blames lack of education for rise of terrace racism after Raheem Sterling incident
Former Sunderland legend Gary Bennett has blamed a lack of education for a recent spate of allegedly racist incidents on the terraces.
The 57-year-old, who played for the Black Cats more than 350 times, reacted after Raheem Sterling was allegedly abused by fans as his team, Manchester City, played Chelsea on Saturday.
Bennett, an ambassador for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign that tackles racism in football, questioned the thought-process of 'so-called fans' who openly abuse players.
The incident at Stamford Bridge has sparked a large reaction on social media and came just a week after a banana skin was thrown onto a Premier League pitch.
The former defender who now commentates on Sunderland games for BBC Newcastle said: "It's regarding education. You want to know the reasons why spectators or supporters who go to watch a game of football are so aggressive and abusive to black people.
"The so-called fans, they've got black players in their team. How do they see them?
"Racism in football hasn't reduced. I think if you look back now there is a lot more incidents that have been raised over the last week or two."
Four Chelsea fans have been suspended from attending games at Stamford Bridge following the game at the weekend. Investigations are said to be ongoing.
That incident came just a week after a banana skin was thrown onto the pitch after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored during Arsenal’s 4-2 derby win over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium, which has led to four men being charged.
Bennett, who was born in Manchester, added: "We've had numerous reports, we're going back in time. There's bananas being thrown on the pitch.
"You think you're making strides in the right direction but it just goes to show that we're not, we're going backwards if anything in this day and age."
Bennett said that the problem of racism in sport will take a long time to eradicate and that the media has a key role to play in ensuring that both black and white players receive fair coverage.
"We'll keep on battling," he added.
"What we can do is to educate people and ask questions why but then you've got to work with all the authorities.
"You've got to work with supporters groups, you've got to work with the PFA, you've got to work with charities Show Racism The Red Card and Kick It Out and try to educate people.
"To go to a football game and have so much anger and hate for a individual or a team, you've got to think why has that built up.
"You don't just turn up at a football match, wait until the whistle is blown and have that hatred, there must be a build up of that.
"That might be coming from the media. You might have a different outlook on certain individuals or certain teams, you might have a hatred because of what is being written about that individual, team or person."