Gareth Southgate: England players will not walk off if racially abused at World Cup
Mark Ogden
June 7, 2018
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England manager Gareth Southgate has ruled out the prospect of his players walking off the pitch in the event of racial abuse during the World Cup in Russia, saying such a move could see them thrown out of the tournament.

Tottenham defender Danny Rose has urged his family not to travel to Russia amid fears over racism after describing the £22,000 fine handed down by FIFA following abusive chants towards black French players in a recent St. Petersburg friendly as "laughable."

Rose, speaking to the London Evening Standard, said the players had talked about the possibility of walking off the pitch in protest if racial abuse was directed towards them.

"We've discussed it," Rose said. "Until it actually happens and under what circumstances, it's hard to say what you'd actually do."

But Southgate, while defending Rose's position, said the cost of walking off would be too much.

"Some people, in an idealistic world, say we should do that, but the reality of that is that you'd be thrown out of tournament," Southgate told reporters in Leeds on Thursday.

"People say we should do that, but I don't think the players want that. They have worked all their life to get to a World Cup, but we will address the issues because they want to play in a World Cup. It's a very delicate balance to get right."

Southgate added: "It is completely unacceptable. The players are clear on where I stand and the support they have from me.

"We don't want to have to talk about it, but it is important that we do.

"The biggest impact we can have is as one of the most diverse squads to have left England and the way that they all get on and hopefully that message will come through.

"The players, like everyone else, doesn't really know what to expect. We have had conversations explaining that. We are all hopeful that it will go well, but we are having conversations in case it happens. We have a plan in place. We have personal support, team support and official protocol in place."

Rose was one of a number of players subjected to racial abuse while playing for England's under-21s in Serbia in October 2012 -- a central factor in his decision to tell his family not to travel.

He told the Standard: "I'm not worried for myself but I've told my family I don't want them going out there [to Russia] because of racism and anything else that may happen.

"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.

"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. 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."

Southgate said the Spurs full-back had the full support of everyone within the England setup.

"I wasn't aware of the conversation Danny had with his family, but everything else he talked to us about," he said. "All of the other parts have been discussed at length.

"I asked for the benefit of others about their experiences in Serbia. He [Rose] felt let down by the authorities and he's not the only one with experience of that -- it's sad to hear.

"He is part of our team, family, for next few months and we intend to support our players as best can.

"None of us know what is going to happen, but it's sad he feels there is a possibility of something happening that he doesn't want his family to experience and distract him from his football."

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