UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings after England players were subjected to racist abuse during their match against Montenegro at the Podorica Stadium, on Monday night.
Monkey chants could be heard directed at England’s black players, most audibly when Danny Rose was booked in stoppage time. England made a formal complaint to UEFA after the game, the experience of the FARE observer at the game supported the FA’s report.
Raheem Sterling had cupped his ears towards the most vociferous section of home support after scoring England’s fifth goal and later called for the authorities to close stadiums in which such incidents have occurred. He posted a picture of his celebration on Instagram post-match with the caption: “Best way to silence the haters (yeah I mean racists).”
Callum Hudson-Odoi, on his full debut, had picked up a cigarette lighter thrown towards Sterling in the wake of that celebration. “When I went over there, Rosey and I heard it,” he said. “They were saying monkey stuff. When you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right … it’s unacceptable and hopefully Uefa deal with it properly.”
“It’s very sad,” said Gareth Southgate, who had been unaware of the abuse when conducting his half-time team talk. “We had an excellent performance and have an 18-year-old [Hudson-Odoi] being interviewed after the game having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut. I didn’t hear during the early part, but I’m told there were things in the early part of the game as well. I certainly heard when Danny Rose was booked. It was clear to everybody. It’s unacceptable.
“I’ve spoken to our players individually. We’ve got to support them. We will report it. That reporting is already in place because so many people in other areas of the ground heard it. I believe the Uefa delegate also heard it. The players in the dressing room know that as a group of staff and organisation, we’re there for them. That’s the most important thing.”
Raheem Sterling added: “It is a shame we are talking about this, to be honest with you. It is 2019 and there should be a real punishment for this, not just for the few people being banned.
“You can fine people but what’s that going to do? It needs to be a collective thing. This stadium holds 15,000 and I think the punishment should be that, as a nation, if your fans are chanting racist abuse, it should be the whole stadium can’t watch it. Then when that ban is lifted your fans will think twice about doing anything silly like that because they all love football, they all want to be there to support their nation. So it will make them think twice to do something silly like that.”
Gareth Southgate suggested “Sanctions are worthless if there is nothing alongside that to help educate people..“My kids don’t think, for one minute, about where people are born, what language they speak, what colour they are. There’s an innocence about young people that is only influenced by older people. So we have to make sure the education is right for everybody, in our country the same.
“I’m not sitting here just criticising what’s happened tonight. We have the same issue in our country, we’re not free of it. You can sanction clubs, but that won’t stop one or two people who are of a mindset to do what they want to do. So we have to educate young people because we have a better chance with young people, and spread that as far and wide as we possibly can.”
Ged Grebby, SRtRC Chief Executive said: “We support tougher action being taken in this case to effectively tackle racism and welcome the news UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings.
“I thought Raheem Sterling’s comments were really powerful and Gareth Southgate’s response to the abuse sent out a strong message. For Callum Hudson-Odoi to experience that on his full debut and for the England players and staff to experience that is terrible.
“SRtRC would echo Gareth Southgate’s statement that education is really important alongside sanctions to challenge racism.”