Southgate bemoans English 'grandstanding' after recent fan trouble

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Gareth Southgate believes it is an "embarrassment" England are playing next month's Nations League match at home to Italy behind closed doors.

June's Euro 2020 final rematch at the Molineux Stadium will be held without fans in attendance, after UEFA sanctioned the English Football Association for crowd trouble that marred that Wembley loss for Southgate's side.

Fans burst into the stadium without tickets and fought with stewards as England lost in that dramatic penalty shootout, and were given a two-game attendance ban by European football's governing body as a result – one of which was suspended.

Asked if the FA was given a lenient ruling upon announcing his squad for the upcoming international window, Southgate was blunt on England and English football's reputation.

"Well, we're on a yellow card, aren't we? So, we are where we are," Southgate said. "We've got the embarrassment now of playing behind closed doors at home.

"Normally when you watch those things having happened abroad, we're all grandstanding about how it's someone else's problem and how this country should be dealt with – and now it's us. That's not a good optic for our country.

"There's clearly a responsibility within football because, when it's in our environment, we've got to do all we can to try to make sure it doesn't happen."

England will play four Nations League fixtures in June, with away trips to Hungary and Germany, before facing Italy and playing out the return fixture with Hungary.

The games come on the back of a recent spate of crowd trouble to mark the end of the English domestic season.

Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was struck by a fan in their Championship playoff against Nottingham Forest, while Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in a scuffle with a supporter following their loss to Everton. Last weekend, Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted by a pitch-invading Manchester City supporter.

In response, Southgate has urged for English football to show restraint and avoid changes that can obstruct the matchday experience.

"We all recognise that, but it's a wider problem," he said. "It's behaviour and a reflection on where we are as a country.

"It's a difficult time for people, we're going to have more difficult times because of the economy and the realities of the situation we're in.

"How do we want to be viewed as a country because that's manifesting itself in football at the moment and that's not a good look. We don't want to go back to fences up and the type of environment that created."

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