The issue of how footballers should respond if they suffer racist abuse from the stands is an extremely tricky one. There’s really no right or wrong answer to it, because people of colour are not one single consciousness that believes the same thing about any given question. The correct response is whatever the person involved thinks the correct response is.
Understandably, with the England players coming together for a couple of European Championship qualifiers against Czech Republic and Bulgaria, the topic has been raised again, and it was interesting and heartening to hear Tammy Abraham speak so clearly and straightforwardly about what would happen if the situation arose, particularly in Sofia next week.
We’ve had meetings about it…Harry Kane even said that if it happens and we’re not happy with it, we all come off the pitch together.
It’s a team thing. Don’t isolate one person. Harry did ask the question about instead of going through the three steps – if we decide that we want to stop the game, no matter what the score is – if we’re not happy as a team we’ll decide whether or not to stay on the pitch.
Watching the gaffer speaking yesterday, he was quite keen on putting a stop to it. No one wants it in football. It’s not just affecting one person, it’s affecting the team. If we decide that we don’t want to play this game because of what’s going on, we’ll come off as a team.
We’d just let the FA or whoever deal with whatever’s next – the scores or what happens with the points. At the time, it’s about making sure we’re a team, we don’t stand for it and we want the world to see that we don’t stand for the silly abuse.
Would there be consequences? Probably, but this is about something more important than that. Let’s hope England’s players never have to ask the question.
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: England Manager Gareth Southgate talks to the press during a England Squad Announcement at Wembley Stadium on October 03, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
Neville gets off the hook…sort of
Phil Neville really needed a barnstorming performance as well as a victory against Portugal on Tuesday to convincingly answer the questions about his tenure as England manager and he got…one of those.
The bare facts are that Beth Mead scored in a 1-0 victory for England, but even the slightest bit of context would suggest that absolutely nothing has changed from the previous five games that England did not win. The goal came about thanks to an utterly calamitous error from Portgual goalkeeper Patricia Morais, allowing Mead to slam home from upwards of two inches out, but beyond that England were turgid, labouring to the win against a team that didn’t qualify for the summer’s World Cup.
Naturally, as has consistently been the case with Neville, all available evidence didn’t prevent him from talking up his own abilities and the prospects of the team under him.
The players were determined and we probably got the luck we haven’t got in those past five games. You earn your luck and the performances over the last two games have been outstanding. It has been my most enjoyable camp since I have been manager.
We’re planning to win a gold medal in Japan [at the Olympics], to win a home Euros. We’ve done a lot of research, thinking on what we didn’t do at the World Cup and it’s a two-year plan.
There really is nothing like the confidence of a man who played with some great players, is there.
Tis the season for some sackings, fa la la la la, la laaa laaa laaa
It’s early October, we’ve reached the second international break, so chairman, presidents and owners around the globe have stuck their finger in the air, decided the wind is blowing the right way and got the sacking stick out.
Tuesday was the day of the long knives in various places around Europe: the Premier League kept its nose clean, but Milan dismissed Marco Giampaolo, with former Fiorentina and Inter boss Stefano Pioli expected to come in, while Eusebio di Francesco is on the bring at Sampdoria, with Gennaro Gattuso apparently in talks to replace him.
And it was carnage back in England: after Neil Harris left Millwall last week, Barnsley “separated” from manager Daniel Stendel with a terse 21-word statement that they didn’t even have the courtesy to include a solemn corner flag picture with, while Sunderland got rid of Jack Ross and Reading were reported to be on the verge of dispensing with their manager Jose Gomes.
Basically, there’s never been a better time to be an out of work manager. Alan Curbishley, stand by your phone.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: This guy
Look, you don’t know what important business this man had to attend on his phone. He could’ve had a Deliveroo order coming. He could’ve taken a sweet pic for the ‘Gram. He could’ve just been making a creative protest about the philosophical nature of VAR and how football is a game played by humans, and should be officiated by humans with all their flaws and imperfect lapses in judgement. He could’ve been on Tinder. You just don’t know.
Zero: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Look, we all know that the Zlatan persona became utterly tedious some time ago, but it’s still worth pointing it out every now and then. The absolute last thing someone with his ego needs his a statue. Honestly, Sweden, what are you doing?
Farewell then, Bastien Schweinsteiger, who announced his retirement on Tuesday. Here’s one from the days when he was a wide midfield barnstormer, rather than the sage old central prowler he would later become: a goal and two assists as Germany beat Portugal in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals.
We’re not asking for anything more than what we had a right to,” he continues. “This should have been resolved so long ago; I assumed things would take care of themselves. There was an outpouring of emotion around the world when it happened, which gave us strength. But once that period of mourning ended, the press clamour and public interest passed, leaving behind problems that weren’t resolved.
For the Athletic, Jack Lang spoke to some of the people still fighting for justice after the Chapecoense plane crash in 2016.
One of those evenings where you should maybe just go to the cinema or something. Cleanse yourself of football for a day. Take a break.
Thursday’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by the fully-cleansed Andi Thomas.