On Monday night, Southgate and the Three Lions travelled to the South European country of Montenegro for a European Cup qualifying game. The odds were greatly stacked in England’s favour, especially following their 5-0 triumph over the Czech Republic just three days before; where Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling netted a hattrick.
England conceded early in the game, with Marko Vesovic neatly putting the home side in front. However, an instant reaction from Keane and Barkley saw Southgate’s boys quickly turn around the deficit, and England proceeded to lead the way into half time with a one goal advantage.
The second half continued to flow England’s way. Barkley grabbed his second of the night, and the World Cup Golden Boot winner, Harry Kane, made it 4-1, making the win certainly head England’s way. Raheem Sterling came up late to score his fourth in half as many games, and the World Cup semi finalists listened to the final whistle whilst sitting comfortably ahead at 5-1.
Despite the comeback win, and England asserting their dominance over their respective group; the shine of the game was dulled by apparent racist abuse from the Montenegro Fans directed at England’s big names. Sterling, Hudson-Odoi and Tottenham’s Danny Rose exclaimed after the game that the fans were making ‘monkey noises’ directed at themselves when they were on the ball.
The apparent abuse comes just days after Hudson-Odoi appeared to be racially abused by Dynamo Kiev fans during Chelsea’s Europa League demolition of the Ukrainian side. It also comes several months after Sterling was racially abused at Stamford Bridge by several Chelsea supporters. In Sterling’s post-match interview on Monday night, he criticised the current sanctions facing racism, “its now time for the people that are in charge to put a real stamp on it [racism] because you can fine someone, but what is that going to do?” Manchester City’s star winger went on to say “a couple of idiots ruined a great night and it’s a real sad thing to hear. It’s a really sad situation we are talking about after a great win.”
Southgate also responded to the abuse his players faced in Montenegro. “The difference for me is educating people. I find that difficult, because I don’t find anybody is different to everyone else, Kids are born into the world without a bone of malice in their body, so it is what we impose on them as adults.” “We can criticise authorities for sanctions, but the problem is deeper.”
UEFA have responded by launching investigations into Montenegro, for racist behaviour and crowd disturbances. Their disciplinary board will hear the case on May 16th.