Head coach of The Three Lions, Gareth Southgate has urged the English Football Association to focus on tackling racism on the home front before looking elsewhere.
Southgate made this call in preparation for England’s first outing after the EURO 2020 Final loss to Italy – he insisted that every focus should be on tackling racism at home rather than any potential issues that may lie ahead in Budapest, where England play on Thursday.
After being charged with racist and homophobic offences by the governing body, with a third game suspended, following abuse from the stands during Euro 2020, Hungary will play their next two home matches behind closed doors
The ban, however, is not binding on their clash against England, though, with World Cup qualifiers played under FIFA jurisdiction. The Puskas Arena is set to have more than 60,000 home fans in attendance but none from England who have not made the journey due to COVID-19 regulations.
Southgate, whose players were also on the receiving end of racial abuse during Euro 2020 qualifiers away to Montenegro and Bulgaria believes clamping down on the racist abuse which followed the Euro 2020 final needs more urgent attention, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all targeted online following their misses in the shoot-out defeat to Italy.
“I don’t think we should speak hypothetically,” he said.. We know the experience we had before but we are going to Hungary preparing for a game in front of a crowd who will get behind their team and we are looking forward to the challenge of the match. Everything else is speculation.”
“I hope that we cannot face this kind of situation. What we can say is always in the past we have shown deep respect for everybody,” he said.
“I am not afraid or worried about the fact someone could have this kind of behaviour, racist behaviour, in front of the English players. I hope this does not happen. In case it does, we are absolutely on the side of the English players, of course.”
Meanwhile, Hungarian coach Marco Rossi has vowed to defend England’s players if they are racially abused in the game