March 26 – Another unsavoury incident of racism at an international fixture, another Balkan country responsible.
England’s stunning 5-1 rout of Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday, the second time in four days they scored five goals, was soured by racist abuse by home fans directed at some of the opposition players.
UEFA was quick to respond to the incidents by charging Montenegro with racist behaviour as well as setting off fireworks and throwing of objects. The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary on May 16.
England defender Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants and Raheem Sterling, scorer of England’s fifth goal, was also targeted.
England manager Gareth Southgate said he would report the incidents to UEFA but European football’s governing body, who as usual had their own match delegate in the stadium, responded within less than 24 hours by saying “disciplinary proceedings” had been opened .
“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. I know what I heard. It’s not acceptable.”
In a separate interview with beIN Sports, he added: “The irony of football is that the dressing room is so united. No matter what religion, no matter what colour, but we still have these issues in society that overshadow that.”
Sterling, who cupped his hands to his ears towards a section of Montenegro fans when he scored England’s fifth goal, told Sky: “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.”
Montenegro coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic said he did not “hear or notice any” racist abuse. But anti-discrimination group Fare’s executive director Piara Powar said: “We had an observer present who picked up evidence of racial abuse. Our monitoring team have been compiling the evidence we have before presenting it to UEFA.”
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