England manager Gareth Southgate was saddened and dismayed by “unacceptable” racist abuse endured by his players in Montenegro and vowed to report it to UEFA.
This was always likely to be a difficult evening for the Three Lions, whose players were made aware of what could lie in store in Podgorica by the management team in the build-up.
Southgate said there had been “no evidence of any racism” on the eve of the game, but sadly that changed in Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier at the Gradski Stadion.
Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants at the end of the impressive 5-1 comeback win in Montenegro, where earlier abuse led Raheem Sterling to celebrate the final goal of the night by pulling out his ears in front of the home fans.
“Best way to silence the haters (yeah I mean racists),” the England forward posted on social media with a picture of the celebration and the ‘hear-no-evil’ monkey emoji.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, the 18-year-old whose impressive first start was overshadowed, called for action to be taken, with England manager Southgate confirming Montenegro would be reported to UEFA.
“Firstly, very sad,” Southgate said at the post-match press conference.
“We had an excellent performance and we’ve got an 18-year-old being interviewed after the game and he’s having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut.
“I didn’t hear (anything) during the early part of the game, but I’m told there were things in the early part of the game as well.
“But I certainly heard when Danny Rose was booked and it’s unacceptable. I’ve spoken to our players individually. We’ve got to support them. We will report it.
“But I think that reporting is already in place because so many people in other areas of the ground have heard it. I believe the UEFA delegate also heard it.
“So, our part will be to make sure that process is followed, but more importantly for me is that the players in the dressing room know that as a group of staff and as an organisation we’re there for them. That’s the most important thing.”