Maitland-Niles backs Sterling and reveals he was racially abused


Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he experienced racist abuse when he was coming through the ranks at Arsenal and that he firmly stands behind Raheem Sterling’s decision to call out the media’s roll in fuelling such behaviour.

Sterling was subject to alleged racist abuse from Chelsea fans during Manchester City’s game at Stamford Bridge and reacted on Monday by highlighting on social media the disparity between the way the press treats young black and white athletes.

The England international has been widely praised for his stance and Maitland-Niles hopes that by shedding a light on such ‘disgusting’ prejudice everyone involved in the game can ‘kick it out’.

“Yes, I have [experienced it],” Maitland-Niles said in a press conference ahead of Thursday’s Europa League game with Qarabag. “Not at a professional level but growing up in the youth ranks.

“I think it’s disgusting, honestly. I really do credit Raheem for coming out and standing up for himself and other players and speaking about it. But, I just think that if a lot of football clubs and some of the players too can join forces to really put our heads to it and try to kick it out, it would be the best thing possible.”

Maitland-Niles confirmed that he was only 12-years-old when he was abused in an away game in Germany and that the situation played out similarly to that experienced by Sterling. To compound matters, the midfielder lamented that despite reporting the incident nothing was done.

“It was pretty much similar to what Raheem got to be honest,” he said.

“I literally went out to pick up the ball for a throw-in and there was a bit of racial abuse behind me. What can I do? I just got on with the game, as he did.

“It hurts. It hurts me to talk about it. It hurts to think about it. But I think that’s why it’s so important that we need to get rid of it from the game.

“It’s not just footballers who need to be on board with it. It’s everyone else: the press, the media and the staff as well.”

He added: “I did [report the incident], but nothing was done about it. I guess I just had to move on from it and become stronger from that.

“At the time, I just spoke to my dad about it and he did sort of give me the heads up and showed me a few things about racism before my time, when I was playing football, just as there still is in the game now.

“As we’ve seen, from Raheem Sterling coming out to speak, so like I said before, I think we just really need to put our heads to it and get it cut out as soon as possible.”

Well said Ainsley.

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It’s crazy that anyone gets racial abuse nowadays from football fans. We are all from families of immigrants at some point in our families’ histories. And we all have a mix of races in all our football teams.

Here’s to an end to stupidity.


Well put. And anybody who would thumbs down this comment…true colors shown.

Arsenala Vista Baby

We don’t talk about colors no more


Absolutely crazy, and even more astounding and wtf, what kind of lowlife, pond scum abuses 12 year olds??


Why discriminate pond scum. Its a natural niche ecosystem with incredibly diverse flora, fauna and bacteria. All things are cool!

Old Bloke.

I can remember being at games back in the sixties and early seventies, when black players were in a very small minority, and witnessing some horrible racist abuse. Sadly it did happen at Arsenal back then but happily we as a club have moved on from those dark days and have a fine tradition of black players. Many of these have come through the academy representing the diverse community which London now is. Arsenal as a club now has a truly multicultural team,staff and fan base.


Well said, and all true. But before you hurt your shoulder patting all AFC fans on the back, have a pint with me and ask me what it feels like to attend a NLD with my Jewish wife.
As a group we’ve come a long way – farther than most – but we still have some work to do.

Old Bloke.

I know what you mean Brent. The rivalry of the NLD can bring out the worst in some fans. The problem is many Sp#rs fans proudly call themselves the Y word whether they are Jewish or not. It has become a nickname and I think when most Arsenal fans use it they do not mean to be anti semetic. That is no excuse to use the word and I never will but it is mostly ment in an anti Sp#rs way rather than anti Jewish. As we know Arsenal have many Jewish fans.

Gudang Pelor

@old.bloke agreed, some of the abusers are not even reallly racists (some of them are though). They just said those things to get to you. But threre should be a line there, where you just can not do that even if you don’t really mean it. They even hide these racist abuse behind “free speech”.

Dan nichols

they are racist if there are any circumstances in which they would use ethnicity to abuse people. i know what you mean but it is important not to allow anyone who would do that to own the description.


Old Bloke, I thumbed you up and I meant it. And we do understand what you’re saying and we grit our teeth and enjoy the day anyway. But what Shit calls itself is not the problem. The problem is the giddiness with which (albeit small) portions of our lot seize on the words and sing them with glee.
The diversity of the Arsenal fan base is something we love about this club, but that particular hypocrisy stings sometimes.


This is important, players speaking up in public, to remind everyone that this shit happens, and things are not even half as rosy as many would like to blindly believe. Here’s to Ainsley, Sterling, and also the countless others who spoke up, but were not heard, like the 12 year old boy.


The fact that the S*n and Ma*l are the most read ‘papers’ and have the most visited websites in Britain tells you all you need to know about the state of the country. Leeching off people’s insecurities peddling b-list gossip and xenophobic clickbait. There is a deeply endemic public intelligence crisis that is perpetuated by this bottom-feeding shite on a daily basis. It has to stop.


I went through racial abuse at my workplace in Switzerland. Despite holding a Master’s degree and proven ability in my job, a colleague still thought it funny to make passive “jokes” about monkeys and bananas. I always thought I was strong enough to deal with racism but trust me, it really does put you down. Look guys, it’s 2018. Let’s kick this freaking thing out once and for all ?


I totally agree. It’s at a very deep emotional level that it affects us. If someone disses on you because you’re shite your job then you can always, at least in your minds eye, show them by doing a good job at whatever it is they dissed you on and shut them up. But there is no real way to conjure up a conversation or situation in your mind to change your skin color and show that person. “Showing that person” is a legitimate emotional response that makes you feel better about yourself because no matter how much you try… Read more »


Dont get fooled by the name “Dan”. I’ve faced my share of racism alright


Very well put, Dan. It’s incredible how you took my thoughts and put them in writing. I am still hopefull that my grand children will live in a world that’s much more empathetic than the one we currently live in. And I would like to think my grandparents thought the same. Either way, I am happy we support a great club that does not tolerate any form of malicious abuse. Not even towards Sp*rs ?

Lord Bendnter

Disgusting how this kind of stuff can even be found in an U-15s game


Nobody wants to talk about the fact that it was CHELSEA fans who abused Sterling. If you live in London and are over 30 then you’ll know that the Chavs have a long history of this kind of stuff. Google the name Paul Canoville and you’ll know just what I’m talking about. When I was getting into football back in the Seventies one of the things I liked most about Arsenal was that we were the least racist club in London. Chelsea, West Ham and Millwall were the worst. It would be great if ALL professional footballers could ply their… Read more »


As much as I despise Chelsea and their fans to be honest it’s almost irrelevant what club has come under the spotlight. This isn’t something to use as ammunition when arguing with your Chelsea supporting mates, it’s something that need to be focused on agnostic of allegiance. I also totally agree with Sterling and what he says re the media- first time I noticed this as an issue was the difference in the reporting between Mayweather and McGregor. Both equally as cocky as each other (the former with far less reason to be) and both sickeningly rich. Yet McGregor is… Read more »


(I meant ‘the former with far more reason to be’)


What I don’t understand is why we are all over sterling’s racism row, when a week earlier some spud threw a banana at PEA. Why weren’t we as angry about that as we are about Sterling.? ( I know we were but arsenal vision and arsecast both gave more time to it than auba) I am not saying that sterling case is not dispacable and worthy of attention. I am asking what might the reaction be if an English black player had a banana thrown at him. I also wonder How can Chelsea ban a fan for life but not… Read more »


It’s not that people care more about Sterling than PEA (though he is English which helps tbf). It’s because not only did Sterling actually speak up about it and rally fellow footballers to his cause, he also firmly pointed the finger at the British media and by extension every footballer writer in the country. A lot of the coverage has actually just been people in the media either attacking or defending their own profession. There’s nothing journalists love more than talking about journalism! Whether a banana was thrown at him instead or not wouldn’t make a difference. In attacking the… Read more »


I understand that it’s sterlings completely rational finger pointing at the disgusting media. I see where that resonates. But I still remember John Barnes getting a Banana thrown at him 30 years ago and the outrage. Aubameyang barely gets a mention even on arsenal websites like this most execellent one. We are letting the media pick our battlefields. They have built up such division in the public image of sterling that at the end of this – he will still be loathed and lauded by roughly the same people. Auba though has managed to avoid being too castigated (despite his… Read more »


“There’s nothing journalists love more than talking about journalism!”

As a journalist myself and having worked at a couple of the English broadsheets in the past, I’ll sadly have to admit this is completely true. But still – the PEA thing being brushed under the carpet is a little upsetting.


I think part of it is that PEA himself more or less laughed it off with a wry #whysmandoingthis. Not saying it’s right, just saying that helped take discussion of that incident off the boil a bit.

El Piresidente

Well said Ainsley but also shows the importance of a more prominent star like Sterling speaking up so that youngsters coming through can also find their voice. So well done Raheem

Dr Zebra

I think that making the spectators be more responsible about reporting incidents can only help. Players shouldn’t have to be alone in reporting their own abuses; it’s difficult enough as it is.


Should be a way to not just ban individuals who perpetuate racism but to publicly shame them as well on social media.

They need to be made into Pariahs.


They should have started with John Terry.

The Old Git's Whistle Test

I cannot begin to understand how anyone can or should have to put up with this kind of treatment in any society. Ainsley very articulately spoke of his experience in life a ND I have heard many similar ones from others but I struggle to understand the mentality of someone who holds these views. I remember the signs in houses with “Rooms to let” signs back in the sixties,i never imagined that people would still view their fellow man in this way ten years later let alone nearly SIXTY! Throw the book at those four men making an example of… Read more »


Hope to see AMN at RWback or Rback.

He’s got the power on either flank to trouble defenses but also great recovery pace to cover the Cbacks.

He needs games.


@santori saw your handle and reminded me of the Greek island and the donkeys. Read your comment and just thought of the donkeys.


It’s a crying shame that this is still happening in this day and age, kudos to Sterling for shining a spot light on it. He’s also spot on about how the way the media portrays black players fuels that racism. But as John Barnes said, it’s not just black footballers that are attacked and treated unfairly in the media but minorities and immigrants in general. And until the likes of The Sun and The Mail have a serious look at themselves the hate and discrimination is only going to grow stronger.


Credit to AMN’s Dad for educating his son on the history of the problem when he was confronted by it. I love hearing about good acts of parenting in action.