England’s impressive 5-1 victory against Montenegro on Monday night, featuring star-turns from Chelsea duo Callum Hudson-Odoi (on his first ever England start) and Ross Barkley, was marred by the post-match revelations from Hudson-Odoi, Raheem Sterling, and England head coach Gareth Southgate regarding racist chanting from the home supporters.
For Hudson-Odoi, this was the second such reprehensible incident in less than ten days, after suffering racial abuse from Dynamo Kiev supporters in Chelsea’s 5-0 Europa League Round of 16 second leg win. UEFA are now investigating that incident, and the 18-year-old called on them to do at least the same in this case.
“We have to play a fair game and enjoy the moment but when you’re hearing stuff like that from the fans it’s not right. It’s unacceptable and hopefully UEFA deal with it properly because when I went over there me and Rosey (Danny Rose) heard it… all the monkey stuff.
“We just have to keep our heads, keep a strong mentality and hopefully Rosey’s OK as well and if anything we’ll have a chat and discuss but he’s got a strong mentality. It’s not right at all. I was enjoying the game as well so to hear stuff like that it’s never right but like I said you’ve got to have a strong mentality and we’re still delighted with the win.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: beIN Sports via Mail
England boss Gareth Southgate added his own thoughts on the “unacceptable” incident, confirming that the team will make an official complaint to UEFA.
“I definitely heard some abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game. There is no doubt in my mind that that happened. We’ll make sure that it’s reported officially, it’s not acceptable.”
-Gareth Southgate; source: Mail
Raheem Sterling, who’s unfortunately no stranger to suffering such abuse either, issued a response both on the pitch, with his goal celebration, and afterwards, a bit more forcefully, to the media as well.
“It’s now time for the people that are in charge to put a real stamp on it because you can fine someone but what’s that going to do? You’ve got to make it harder — you’ve got to punish all the fans so they can’t come to the games, you’ve got to do something that’s really going to make them think twice. Because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them and make them think twice about it.
“I can only, we can only, the FA can only do so much. We’ve got to leave this to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it. Just banning one or two people is not going to change anything, even to our fans I’d say the exact same thing.”
-Raheem Sterling; source: Sky
Danny Rose was reportedly so upset by the abuse that he refused all media interviews and even shirt swaps, leaving his England shirt “crumpled on the changing room floor”.
Sterling, Hudson-Odoi, and Rose did talk about it among themselves, according to the Chelsea youngster, underlining the 24-year-old Sterling’s ever-impressive maturity.
“Yeah, Raheem’s always helped no matter what he’s been talking to me about it and trying to say ‘listen, don’t worry about it’. It’s football people do it and obviously it’s not right in a game but you’ve got to stay strong, and I’ve spoken to him and Rosey about it at the same time.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Mail
It’s always disheartening and infuriating to see and hear about such incidents, especially knowing that the standard response from UEFA is barely adequate and has so far proven largely ineffective and inconsequential.
“It’s not just young black men, it’s young kids growing up in diverse cities. It’s not just black kids I want to reach out to. In England we’ve got a diverse country and it’s 2019 as I keep saying and there are a lot of different phases in our country and bringing awareness to let people know these are new times, it’s different.”
-Raheem Sterling; source: Sky
There’s a lot of work to be done still, unfortunately.