‘If we’re not happy with it, we all come off together’: Tammy Abraham says England players will walk off the pitch if they are subjected to racism against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria
- Manager Gareth Southgate has spoken to players about prospect of racist abuse
- Tammy Abraham says England players have agreed to stand up against taunts
- Black England players were racially abused against Montenegro in March
- Bulgaria supporters were found guilty of racist behaviour earlier this year
Gareth Southgate’s men are willing to abide by UEFA protocol for racial chants – but striker Tammy Abraham indicated England players are ready to collectively abandon the match in Sofia, should the situation warrant it.
Southgate led a team meeting to discuss the prospect of racist taunts during Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria, and also Friday’s game in Prague against the Czech Republic.
Part of the Stadion Vasil Levski will be closed as punishment after Bulgaria fans were found guilty of racist behaviour against Kosovo and the Czech Republic earlier this year.
Tammy Abraham believes England must walk off the pitch if necessary, regardless of the score
UEFA have a three-step protocol if racial abuse is apparent in a stadium: players must inform the referee; if taunts continue the stadium announcer will demand supporters stop; if chants continue the referee can lead the players off the pitch before deciding whether the match should restart.
Black England players were racially abused in Montenegro in March but completed the game.
Abraham said on Tueaday: ‘We’ve had several meetings about it. We’ve touched base on how to deal with the situation.
‘Harry Kane even said that if it happens and we’re not happy with it, we speak to the player and if he’s not happy, we all come off the pitch together.
‘It’s a team thing. Don’t isolate one person, we’re a whole team. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.
‘We did speak about the three-step protocol. Harry Kane did ask the question about instead of going through the three steps, if we decide that we want to stop the game — no matter what the score is — if we’re not happy with it, as a team we’ll decide whether or not to stay on the pitch.’
Raheem Sterling cups his hands to his ears after scoring in England’s win over Montenegro
Montenegro were fined after their fans were found to have racially abused England stars
Asked if he believes players would follow through with a pitch walk-off, Abraham replied: ‘I do. Watching the gaffer speaking yesterday, he was quite keen on putting a stop to it.
‘No one wants (racism) in football. It’s not just affecting one person, it’s affecting the team. It’s a team decision if we decide in the end that we don’t want to play this game anymore because of what’s going on. We’ll come off as a team.
‘We don’t stand for it and we want the world to see that we don’t stand for the silly abuse.’
Meanwhile, Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton has pulled out of the squad with an unspecified injury. Dean Henderson, 22, on loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United, has been called up in his place.
Southgate held meetings with the players in the event of racist taunts in Euro 2020 qualifiers