PODGORICA, March 26 — England’s stunning 5-1 rout of Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign yesterday was soured by allegations of monkey chants directed at some of their players.
Defender Danny Rose was subjected to racist abuse and Raheem Sterling, scorer of England’s fifth goal, was also a target of the home fans, with racist chants heard throughout the game.
“I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game,” said England manager Gareth Southgate, having given a first start to Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi who also said he had heard the racist behaviour.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that happened and we’ll report it to Uefa. It’s not acceptable,” added Southgate on ITV Sport.
Southgate said he had not had a chance to talk to Sterling, who gestured by cupping his hands to his ears towards a section of Montenegro fans when he scored late on.
“I didn’t hear (racist chanting) personally but Danny (Rose) made it clear and (made me) aware that’s what they were doing so I just wanted to show them that they were going to need more than that to upset us and stop us,” Sterling told Sky Sports.
“It’s a shame to see this keep going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation. It’s now time for the people in charge to stamp it out. You can fine someone but what’s that going to do? You’ve got to make it a bit harder.
“You’ve got to punish the whole fans who can’t come to the games. You’ve got to do something that will really make them think twice because if their team can’t play with fans it’s going to be difficult for them.”
Sterling later wrote on Twitter: “Best way to silence the haters...(and yeah I mean racists)”
Southgate, whose side have now hit 10 goals in two Group A games, added of the incidents: “I know what I heard. We’ll definitely deal with it in the right way and we have to make sure we support our players.”
In a separate interview with beIN Sports, he said: “The irony of football is that the dressing room is so united. No matter what religion, no matter what colour, but we still have these issues in society that overshadow that.”
The 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi, who became the second-youngest England player to start a competitive game, said he heard monkey chants, marring what had been a memorable night in his career.
“You are trying to enjoy the moment but when you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right, it’s unacceptable,” he told beIN Sports.
“I don’t think discrimination should be anywhere — we are equal. Me and Rosey heard it, the ‘oooh, oooh’ monkey stuff.
“You just have to keep your heads, keep a strong mentality. Hopefully Uefa will deal with it,” added Hudson-Odoi.
“Raheem has spoken to me about it and told me people will be rude and say things you don’t want to hear. You block it out of your head but at the same time it should not happen. It’s unacceptable.”
Former England striker Ian Wright, summarising for ITV, said European football’s governing body Uefa had to get tough.
“It will probably go to Uefa and they (Montenegro) will be fined a pittance and we’ll get the same thing again here the next time or somewhere else in Europe. It’s not going to stop them.”
The alleged abuse took some of the attention away from what was another vibrant display by England’s young lions, who showed great resolve to hit back from the shock of conceding a 17th minute opener scored by Montenegro’s Marko Vesovic.
Hudson-Odoi was impressive, setting up the first of Ross Barkley’s two goals, while 20-year-old holding midfielder Declan Rice, also given a first start after coming off the bench in the 5-0 thrashing of Czech Republic on Friday, looked unflustered throughout.
Sterling maintained the electric form that saw him score a hat-trick against the Czechs while captain Harry Kane scored his 17th goal in 20 games under Southgate.
Michael Keane’s header — his first goal for England — had cancelled out Vesovic’s opener. — Reuters