England won’t walk off if faced with racism at World Cup
Southgate insists his side will not leave pitch after Danny Rose says his family won’t travel
England’s Danny Rose has said that he has told his family not to travel to the World Cup in Russia for fears of racist abuse. Photo: Paul Ellis/Getty Images
England manager Gareth Southgate insists his team cannot walk off the pitch if any of the players are targeted with racist abuse at the World Cup.
He was sad to learn defender Danny Rose had told his family not to attend for fear of unsavoury incidents, and stressed the team will continue to fight racism as strongly as they can.
However, he drew the line at making a stand by walking off during any of their matches in Russia as it would threaten their participation in the tournament.
“People in an idealistic world would say you should do that, and it seems the realities are that you would be thrown out,” Southgate said ahead of Thursday’s final warm-up friendly against Costa Rica.
“I don’t think the players want that as they’ve worked all their lives to get to a World Cup.
“The ideal is we can raise the issue and confront the issue but we want to play in the tournament.
“It is a difficult and delicate balance to get right and it is impossible for me to say anything which will please everyone.
“The landscape has changed in the 30 years I’ve been in the game.
“We can make some difference in football but we can’t change everything because problems are societal.
“The point I made to the players was maybe we can have a small impact with the way we conduct ourselves.
“The guys are fantastic role models for kids in that they can show what is possible so there is a possibility to change people’s thinking and have an impact, particularly in the communities they grew up in.”
Southgate has spoken to Rose about his concerns and asked the player to share his feelings with the squad.
The 27-year-old Tottenham full-back was sent off following an under-21 match with Serbia in 2012 for his reaction to racial abuse, and says he is now “numb” to the problem.
As a result he revealed in an interview with the London Evening Standard he had told his family to stay away from Russia.
“I sympathise 100 per cent,” Southgate added. “He has had a very personal experience that I was aware of.
“I wasn’t aware of the conversation he had had with his family.
“I actually asked him, for the benefit of other players, for his experiences of what had gone on and what was clear was he felt let down by the authorities and he was not the only one who had had experience of that, which was sad to hear.
“It is sad he talked about the fines and things that have happened that seem they are not really having any impact.
“None of us know what is going to happen in Russia, but if he feels that there is a possibility of something, he didn’t want his family to experience it as it might distract from his football.”
Southgate spoke at length on how racism is “completely unacceptable” and stressed support mechanisms were in place for the players.
“We want everyone to be prepared and for us to have an understanding of how each individual is to be treated if that happens,” he said.
“The players are very clear where I stand on it and the support they have from me.
“It is not something we want to be talking about but it is something we should talk about.
“We have one of the most diverse teams going to a World Cup. That, for me, was a privilege as a footballer; playing with different nationalities and religions.
“Hopefully that message spreads far and wide.”