08 Oct Tammy Abraham admits England ready to walk off over racial abuse
Tammy Abraham claims England players are prepared to defy UEFA’s racism protocols if they feel they are inadequate and take it upon themselves to walk off the pitch if someone is targeted.
The Three Lions travel to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria for back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifiers this weekend.
The second game, in Sofia, will be particularly scrutinised as the hosts will be playing with the Vasil Levski National Stadium partially closed as a sanction following racism in the home games against both Kosovo and the Czech Republic.
England’s players received similar abuse in their qualifier against Montenegro in Podgorica, where they stayed on the pitch and ran out 5-1 winners.
Manager Gareth Southgate has said that, going forward, England will follow UEFA’s three-step protocol for racial abuse.
The first step is for the referee to made aware of any racism and halt the game for an announcement to be made, secondly – if the abuse continues – the referee will suspend the game for a period of time.
The third and final step will see the official abandon the game – but Abraham has suggested, if England’s players believe someone is not comfortable, captain Harry Kane will lead them off the field of play before the three steps are played out if they are not working.
“Yes, we’ve had meetings, several meetings about it since we’ve arrived yesterday,” he said.
“We’ve touched base on how to deal with the situation. Harry Kane even said that if it happens and we’re not happy with it, we speak to the player and if he’s not happy, we all come off the pitch together.
“It’s a team thing. Don’t isolate one person, we’re a whole team. If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.
“We did speak about that. Harry Kane did ask the question about instead of going through the three steps, if we decide that we want to stop the game and we want to stop the game – no matter what the score is – if we’re not happy with it, as a team we’ll decide whether or not to stay on the pitch.”
Ashley Young was subjected to monkey chants in Sofia during an England game in 2011, but the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS) only received a 40,000 euros (£34,000) fine by UEFA for “discriminatory” chanting and for the lighting and throwing of fireworks.
Abraham, in his second England squad after scoring eight Premier League goals at the start of the season, believes offering abusers more than one chance is also the incorrect approach.
“For me personally, I think it’s just one strike because it gives people excuses,” he added.
“One time, twice, three times – it gives silly people excuses.
“Like we were all saying yesterday, if it happens and let’s say there’s a warning or whatever in the stadium, then it happens again, we have to make a decision as a team and with the staff.”
Abraham suffered racial abuse online earlier this season, the 22-year-old targeted by trolls after missing a penalty in the Super Cup shoot-out defeat to Liverpool.
“I think I dealt with it in the best way possible,” he said.
“I just stayed away from Twitter and all social media, I just spent time with my team-mates and my family. Everyone saw it, everyone was aware of what was happening.
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not an excuse for people to hide behind computers and say whatever they want to say.
“But whoever doesn’t have my personality might be affected more. Like I said, I think I dealt with it the best way. I stayed away, ignored it and just let the football do the talking.”
Abraham was not part of the squad when a number of black players were bombarded with jeers and monkey chants in Montenegro in March.
But he revealed he spoke to Chelsea team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was one of the individuals who had to deal with the situation.
“I was watching on TV,” he added.
“I didn’t quite understand what was going on because it’s not really the same on TV but to know what those guys were going through out there, it’s not acceptable.
“No-one wants to see that. You just want to see the beautiful game. I spoke to Callum as well. He’s a strong character, he played well.”