Thursday 25 April 2019

Gareth Southgate rules out walk off if England players are racially abused at World Cup

England manager Gareth Southgate (Adam Davy/PA Wire)
England manager Gareth Southgate (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

England manager Gareth Southgate has ruled out his players walking off the pitch if they are racially abused at the forthcoming World Cup.

Russia have been involved in several cases of racism in the past few years, and last month, were handed a €25,000 fine for racist chants in their friendly with France. Southgate said that if his players are targeted while playing in the tournament, they will play on.

Speaking at a World Cup press conference he said: "People in an idealistic world say you should do that (stage a walk-out)."

"It seems that the reality of that is that you’d be thrown out of a tournament and some people will say we should do that.

"I don't think the players want that. They’ve worked all their lives to get to a World Cup. The ideal is that we’re able to raise the issues, confront the issues, but they want to play in the tournament."

In the wake of Danny Rose telling the press that he urged his family not to travel to Russia because of the history of racism there, the England manager said that he sympathises with his defender, admitting that there is an element of ‘anything could happen’ associated with their campaign in Russia.

"I sympathise 100 percent," he said.

"What he said was that he felt let down by the authorities and that he wasn’t the only one that had experience with that, which was sad to hear. 

"Of course none of us know what is going to happen in Russia, but it’s sad that he feels there’s a possibility of something happening, that he didn’t want his family to experience."

Southgate has spoken out against racism and sectarian abuse in the past, and said that he and his team will do their all to bring light to the problem, in an effort to stamp it out.

"I think everybody knows how strongly I feel about the subject," he said.

"It’s completely unacceptable. There’s no way that people should be treated differently because the color of their skin or the religion that they believe in.

"It’s a very difficult and delicate balance for us to get right. The point I made to the players, and I know Danny has said; 'we can’t change the world', but maybe we can have a small impact by the way that we conduct ourselves.

"The guys, from all of the communities that they came from, are fantastic role models to the kids, in terms of the way they're able to show what’s possible and the way they interact with each other. So there is a way to change people’s thinking and to have an impact."

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