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Southgate: England players will not walk off over racism

RESPONDING TO RACISM: Gareth Southgate says players will not walk off the pitch

ENGLAND PLAYERS will not walk off the pitch over racism, Gareth Southgate has said.

The England manager has made the comments after a series of discussions on the issue with his team.

In March, members of the England team were subjected to racial abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro.

Following the match, which was tainted by racist chants, several players spoke out about punishments handed out by football authorities as not being severe enough.

As a result of the incident, Montenegro have been made to play their next home game behind closed doors and were fined €20,000 by UEFA.

“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,” The Telegraph reported Southgate said.

He added that behind the decision was that players did not want to “be the story” and that he has personally spent a lot of time speaking with Raheem Sterling, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Rose. Each of the players have spoken out about the issue of racism following several high profile incidents.

“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 said that such statements had not led to change and that he believed the broader discussion around racism education to be key.

“A lot of our players and former players have spoken brilliantly about that in recent months,” he said.

England captain Harry Kane had previously said he would walk his players off the pitch if they were subjected to more racist abuse.

“I’m supportive of my teammates and if it happened again and they weren’t happy and wanted to talk about it or take a breather I would fully back them,” The Telegraph reported he said back in March.

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