Southgate And Squad To Prepare For Potential Racist Abuse In Bulgaria

England’s midfielder Jordan Henderson (L) and England manager Gareth Southgate (R) attend a press conference at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on September 9, 2019, ahead of their Euro 2020 football qualification match against Kosovo. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

England manager Gareth Southgate is to meet with his squad ahead of their Euro 2020 match in Bulgaria next month and discuss what measures they might take if they are subjected to racist abuse.

One Bulgarian fan was arrested for “discriminatory abuse” directed at Raheem Sterling during the 4-0 win over Bulgaria last Saturday at Wembley, although he was subsequently released without charge.

A previous England team have already experienced racist abuse in Bulgaria in 2011 — Southgate’s team also were showered with abuse in a Euro qualifier in Montenegro last year.

READ ALSO: British Police Arrest Fan For Abusing Sterling

Bulgaria’s Stadion Vasil Levski will be partially closed for the matches with England on October 14 and Czech Republic in November because of the racist behaviour of fans in June.

A total of 5,000 seats of the 46,000 capacity stadium will be closed off for the England visit and 3,000 for the Czech Republic match — and a banner with the wording “#EqualGame”, with the UEFA logo on it will be displayed over the seats.

“It is a concern, we’re not confident that we’ll go there and nothing will happen,” Southgate said, adding that the meeting to address the issue was “already planned.”

“We’ve already planned what our schedule looks like and we’re going to discuss it with the players before we go, because we’re aware that there is history there and we want to make sure that we’re all prepared for what might happen and how we want to respond.”

UEFA ordered the partial closure of Bulgaria’s national stadium following racist behaviour by their fans in Euro 2020 qualifying games against Czech Republic and Kosovo in June.

Last month, Bulgarian club sides PFC Levski Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv were punished by UEFA for racism during Europa League games.

Southgate Safe Even If England Fail In World Cup

England Boss Southgate 'Won't Write Off' World Cup Foes
England’s coach Gareth Southgate (L) speaks with Belgium’s coach Roberto Martinez at the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament final draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1, 2017. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15, 2018 in 11 Russian cities.
Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose all their group matches at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Southgate took the reins on a permanent basis 12 months ago on a four-year contract and oversaw a successful qualification for the 2018 showpiece event, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said he would retain faith that England have the right man at the helm — “for the next few tournaments” — regardless of results in Russia.

“Gareth has a long-term contract. We’ve got a long-term plan. You’ve seen it, you’ve seen some of the fruits of it,” said Glenn, quoted in the English press on Monday.

“Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you.

“He’s not looking at Russia as a free pass. The World Cup’s a really important staging post for our development, I think.”

England, who are 15th in the FIFA world rankings, failed to qualify for the knockout stages in Brazil in 2014.

“We go out there wanting to win it but also being realistic,” said Glenn. “No-one wants to have a bad World Cup but we’re confident he’s the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments.”

England’s future hopes have been buoyed by recent age-group successes, including Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup victories, and Glenn believes showing long-term vision is the way forward.

“We’re going to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” he said. “So we’re going to make sure that we’re picking the kind of players that can do their best in Russia and continue to kick on in 2020 and 2022.

“What we’re doing is making sure that players that have made it through to the first team by 21, 22, have had lots and lots of tournament experience. So those under-17 winners and under-20 winners will be coming through and they are serious competitions to win.

“We know that worked for the Germans and we know that worked for the Spanish, so we’re just repeating things they’ve done with our own emphasis on it.”

AFP

England Boss Southgate ‘Won’t Write Off’ World Cup Foes

England Boss Southgate 'Won't Write Off' World Cup Foes
England’s coach Gareth Southgate (L) speaks with Belgium’s coach Roberto Martinez at the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament final draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1, 2017. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

England manager Gareth Southgate refused to get carried away with what appeared to be a hugely favourable draw on Friday for his team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The draw in Moscow saw England chosen to face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G.

It meant England, who have not won a major men’s international trophy since lifting the 1966 World Cup on home soil, avoided global giants Argentina, Brazil and Germany after Argentina great Diego Maradona picked them out of Pot 2 at the Kremlin’s State Palace.

England will face Tunisia in their opening game in Volgograd on June 18, a repeat of their first game in the 1998 World Cup in France, when goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes secured a 2-0 win in Marseille.

They will then travel to Nizhni Novgorod on June 24 to take on Panama, making their first appearance in a World Cup finals, with their concluding group fixture against well-regarded Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28.

With the top two teams in each pool going through to the second round, Belgium and England will be huge favourites to make it out of Group G.

But Southgate, recalling England’s decades of disappointment on the international stage, was wary of Panama, telling the BBC: “We’ve been good at writing teams off and then getting beat. We’ve got to be prepared for every game.”

Former England international Southgate played against Tunisia at France 98.

“Remembering the Tunisia game in 1998, it was the first thing that went through my mind,” he said. “It was a fantastic day and it’s nice to be able to relive that.

“We haven’t done as much preparing on the African teams yet so now that’s what we can focus in on.”.

England beat Belgium, several of whose players are now established Premier League performers, at the 1990 World Cup in Italy and have never lost to them at a major tournament, suffering only one defeat in 21 matches with their European rivals.

Former England winger Chris Waddle, who missed a penalty in a 1990 World Cup semi-final shoot-out defeat by Germany, said Southgate’s men had been given a “fantastic” draw.

“You can’t ask for a better draw,” Waddle told the BBC. “Every team is dangerous. Belgium are a class on their day but the rest are very beatable.”

AFP