PODGORICA (Reuters) – England’s stunning 5-1 rout of Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday was soured by racist abuse directed at some of their players leading to calls for stadium bans.
Soccer Football – Euro 2020 Qualifier – Group A – Montenegro v England – Podgorica City Stadium, Podgorica, Montenegro – March 25, 2019 England’s Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their fifth goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Defender Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants and Raheem Sterling, scorer of England’s fifth goal, was also targeted, with racist abuse heard throughout the game.
Sterling called for Montenegro supporters to be banned from matches, while England manager Gareth Southgate said he would report the incidents to European soccer’s governing body UEFA.
“I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game,” said Southgate.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that happened and we’ll report it to UEFA. It’s not acceptable,” he added on ITV Sport.
Southgate said he had not had a chance to talk to Sterling, who gestured by cupping his hands to his ears toward a section of Montenegro fans when he scored late on.
Sterling told Sky Sports: “I didn’t hear (racist chanting) personally but Danny (Rose) made it clear and (made me) aware that’s what they were doing so I just wanted to show them that they were going to need more than that to upset us and stop us.
“It’s a shame to see this keep going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation. It’s now time for the people in charge to put a stamp on it. You can fine someone but what’s that going to do? You’ve got to make it a bit harder.
“You’ve got to punish the whole fans who can’t come to the games. You’ve got to do something that will really make them think twice because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them.”
Sterling later wrote on Twitter: “Best way to silence the haters…(and yeah I mean racists)”
Southgate, whose side have now hit 10 goals in two Group A games, added of the incidents: “I know what I heard. We’ll definitely deal with it in the right way and we have to make sure we support our players.”
In a separate interview with beIN Sports, he said: “The irony of football is that the dressing room is so united. No matter what religion, no matter what color, but we still have these issues in society that overshadow that.”
Southgate gave a first start to Chelsea’s 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, who also said he had heard the racist behavior.
The teenager, who became the second-youngest England player to start a competitive game, confirmed he heard monkey chants, marring what had been a memorable night in his career.
“You are trying to enjoy the moment but when you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right, it’s unacceptable,” he told beIN Sports.
“I don’t think discrimination should be anywhere — we are equal. Me and Rosey heard it, the ‘oooh, oooh’ monkey stuff.
“You just have to keep your heads, keep a strong mentality. Hopefully UEFA will deal with it,” added Hudson-Odoi.
“Raheem has spoken to me about it and told me people will be rude and say things you don’t want to hear. You block it out of your head but at the same time it should not happen. It’s unacceptable.”
The anti-discrimination group Kick it Out tweeted: “Disgraceful to hear racist chants directed at black @England players this evening.
“As we’ve argued countless times, it’s time for @UEFA to take strong, decisive action – fines won’t do.
“Extended stadium bans or tournament expulsion are what’s needed.”
Former England striker Ian Wright, summarizing for ITV, also said UEFA had to get tougher.
“It will probably go to UEFA and they (Montenegro) will be fined a pittance and we’ll get the same thing again here the next time or somewhere else in Europe. It’s not going to stop them.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris