London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate won’t lead his side off the field should any of his players suffer racist abuse at the World Cup in Russia for fear of expulsion from the tournament.
Left-back Danny Rose has told his family not to travel to Russia as the Tottenham defender is fearful they could suffer from racism.
However, Southgate believes walking off in protest at abuse would be counter-productive as he believes England can set an example as one of the most diverse teams in the competition.
“In an idealistic world people would say ‘you should do that’ (walk off the pitch) but it seems the realities of that would be you would be thrown out of the tournament,” Southgate said on Wednesday.
“I don’t think the players would want that because they have worked all their lives to get to a World Cup.”
As recently as March the Russian football association was fined 30,000 Swiss francs (25,000 euros, £22,000) by global governing body FIFA following racist chants by supporters during a friendly international against France.
“It’s not something we want to be talking about, but it’s something we should talk about,” added Southgate, who insists support systems have been set up for his players in case of racist incidents.
“For me the biggest impact we can have is the interaction between probably one of the most diverse teams that’s ever gone to a World Cup.”
– Rose abused before –
Rose has been racially abused while on England duty before as he was subjected to monkey chants during an under-21 international in Serbia in 2012.
The Serbian FA were fined 80,000 euros, whilst Rose was sent off after the final whistle following clashes between both sets of players.
“I’m not worried for myself, but I’ve told my family I don’t want them going out there because of racism and anything else that may happen,” Rose told the London Evening Standard.
“I don’t want to be worrying when I’m trying to prepare for games for my family’s safety.
“If anything happens to me, it wouldn’t affect me like it would if my family had been abused. I’m fine with whatever may or may not happen, and I like to think I’ll be able to deal with it in the right way.”
The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) anti-discrimination network reported 89 racist and far-right incidents at Russian games in the 2016-2017 season.
And Rose criticised the decision to award the tournament to a country where racial abuse at games is still common.
“My dad’s really upset. I could hear it in his voice. He said he may never get a chance again to come and watch me in a World Cup,” he added.
“That was emotional, hearing that. It’s really sad. It’s just how it is. Somehow Russia got the World Cup and we have to get on with it.”