Gareth Southgate says no England player wants to walk off pitch if faced with repeat of racist abuse

Jason Burt
The Telegraph
Southgate has canvassed opinion with the rest of the squad as to what the appropriate course of action would be - Action Images via Reuters
Southgate has canvassed opinion with the rest of the squad as to what the appropriate course of action would be - Action Images via Reuters

Gareth Southgate says no England player wants to walk off the pitch if there is a repeat of the racist abuse suffered in Montenegro.

The England manager has spoken to Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi after the incident in Podgorica at the end of the Euro 2020 qualifier in March.

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Southgate has also canvassed opinion with the rest of the squad as to what the appropriate course of action is amid a debate over whether it is time for players to take matters into their own hands.

Montenegro have been ordered to play their next home match behind closed doors after the racist chanting which marred the match with Rose among those who said the punishment was not harsh enough.

“We’ve discussed ways that we can make the players more comfortable or that we can manage if they heard things earlier in the game,” Southgate said. “How would we report those more easily? We’ve encouraged them to speak up when it happens. 

<span>Danny Rose was among several black English players to receive abuse in the match against Montenegro</span> <span>Credit: ACTION IMAGES </span>
Danny Rose was among several black English players to receive abuse in the match against Montenegro Credit: ACTION IMAGES

“They’re clear that they don’t want the story at the end to be about them as individuals, they want football to be the story. But they’ve also had an opportunity since then to speak and have an impact. In terms of walking off the pitch, that isn’t something they’re all on board with - in fact, none of the current team have expressed that as a preference. The bit that isn’t clear if we did that - apart from the question of would we be penalised - it’s not clear to me what would happen then. It would be a statement, but what would that lead to?”

Southgate insisted that education remains “the key” to eradicating racism. “I don’t think we surely need any more symbolic statements that this is unacceptable,” he said. “It is totally unacceptable but I am still not clear. What change will that (walking off) enforce? Somehow we have to enforce that change and education on society and I think we must continue to strive to do that but I know there is a wide variation of opinions of people that this is the right thing and people who are less sure. My players’ feeling is the most important thing for me.”

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