Roma defender Chris Smalling believes harsher sanctions are required from football’s governing bodies to change the attitude towards racism.
The English centre-back joined Roma on loan from Manchester United after limited opportunities at Old Trafford last season.
Smalling has only made three appearances for the Giallorossi after missing the start of the season with a muscle injury but is settling in well at the Serie A club.
The 29-year-old is aware of the issues surrounding racism in football, but says while it is difficult to know what the right approach is, he hopes harsher penalties will deter supporters from racist behaviour.
“In an ideal scenario it wouldn’t happen, but in a second scenario I think the authorities need to have the type of sanctions that make people think twice or three times about it,” Smalling told his club’s website.
“But until those are in place, if something was to happen to myself or a team-mate, then you could walk off.
— Chris Smalling (@ChrisSmalling) September 6, 2019
“I know it’s difficult because it’s disappointing for 99 per cent of fans who are at the stadium to enjoy the spectacle and are not involved. But I feel like at some point it is going to happen – and it probably should happen. Maybe that then speeds up the authorities to change things.
“Unfortunately it takes for things to get worse before real change happens – that happens in all walks of life – but I do think that until those sanctions are strong enough we might not be far off a point where players do walk off.
“If one player is abused then the whole team should be together, and I’m sure they would be.”
Earlier this season Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants during Inter’s Serie A fixture against Cagliari, but Smalling is yet to experience it himself since arriving in Italy.
He said: “Honestly, I have not noticed anything – although I’m still picking up the language!
“I’ve not experienced it directly, but obviously you do see what’s in the news. I don’t think it is just a problem in Italy, I think we are getting more cases in England too. It seems to be very much a generational thing that I think definitely needs to be clamped down on.
“I think we are getting closer to the type of sanctions that there need to be, and they need to be harsh.
“But hopefully they can single out the ones that are unwilling to change, and then hopefully the new generation – like my boy, and other younger kids – don’t grow up seeing it and thinking it’s right.”