Former England international Gary Neville has said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and England manager Gareth Southgate are “poles apart” in how they carry themselves as leaders.
Southgate is having to pick himself and his players up following the heartbreak of a Euro 2020 final penalty shootout loss to Italy.
But he is also having to deal with the fallout from the racist abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after their misses in the shootout.
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Johnson took to Twitter on Monday morning to condemn the racist abuse, but Neville does not believe the current Prime Minister is showing leadership to the country on account of his well-publicised views on Muslims and minorities.
Speaking to Sky News, Neville said: “I’ve just seen your breaking news and it says ‘the PM condemns racist abuse of England players.'” Is that the same Prime Minister who only a few weeks ago...
Gareth Southgate a few weeks ago, for about five days on the trot, said they were taking the knee to promote equality and against racism. The Prime Minster said it was okay for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality and defend against racism.
“It starts at the very top. So I was not surprised in the slightest to wake up to those headlines. I felt it would happen the moment the three players that missed, missed.
"There is an issue in society and in football that it is acceptable to criticise players for sporting actions for the colour of their skin.
"Accepting and validating that players who take the knee to promote equality and against racism, it is coming from the top.
"You know full well that if your parents do something, your children will follow.”
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Neville believes processes must be put in place to ensure there are consequences of actions.
He said: “I am not saying that each individual who has directed that abuse shouldn’t take accountability, they should. As should social media companies.
“We should isolate these individuals who are directing abuse, and isolate them by writing to their employers so there is accountability and consequences for actions.”
When asked if the Prime Minister could take a leaf out of Southgate’s book on leadership, Neville responded: “He (Johnson) said Muslim women looked like letterboxes. Should we not be highlighting this sort of thing more often?
"Honestly, Gareth Southgate and Boris Johnson are poles apart. You can be a leader and be a gentlemen. You can be ruthless and have empathy and compassion.
If you look at Boris Johnson, every time he speaks - this is not political, Tory party, Labour, Lib Dem - I am really disenfranchised and disconnected with what I see in politics. There is a lack of leadership.
"Gareth over these last few weeks, every time he has come on, he has talked with dignity, it is genuine and it is passionate.
“He connects with the people of this country, and yet when I hear some MPs speak I am like, ‘what is happening here? How can I vote for these people?’
“Gareth Southgate, throughout his life, has carried himself brilliantly as an individual. And it demonstrates you can be a gentleman and have standards and that you can also lead.”
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