Some England players feel there is no point reporting racist abuse due to a lack of faith in the system, manager Gareth Southgate has said.
"We spoke to them a lot before the summer and they were very clear they wanted to play their football," Southgate told reporters when asked if he was willing to take his players off the pitch if they were racially abused.
"Some of them didn't even want to report things because they don't have faith that things will be dealt with appropriately or they would make a difference."
Sterling called for strict sanctions such as stadium closures to be imposed to "make them think twice" about racist abuse.
Southgate said he wanted an approach that focused on prevention by educating young people about racism.
"I can't discuss sanctions," Southgate added. "What is the right sanction? Is it a big fine? Is it the closing of sections of a stadium? What is honestly going to make any difference?
"The difference for me is educating people. ... Kids are born into the world and they don't have a bone of malice in their body, so it is what we impose on them as adults. We can criticise authorities for sanctions, but the problem is deeper than sanctions."