England’s World Cup squad are a “tight knit” group and have plans in place to deal with any racial abuse aimed at any members of the travelling party, says manager Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions will leave for Russia next week ahead of their opening game with Tunisia on June 18, but Danny Rose’s family will not be following them.
Rose made the decision to tell his family to stay at home due to concerns over abuse at the tournament, particularly after racist chants were aimed at French players during a friendly with Russia in March.
The Tottenham full-back has experienced racism previously in his England career – when playing for the Under-21s against Serbia in 2012 – and he is not prepared to see his family suffer the same abuse.
Southgate says he sympathises “100 per cent” with Rose’s situation and confirmed his squad have discussed the issue during their recent training camp.
“I wasn’t aware of the conversation he had had with his family,” Southgate told a media conference. “Everything else he has said he talked to us about because we had a meeting with the players a few nights ago.
“For the benefit of the other players I asked him to share his experiences in Serbia. What was clear was that he felt let down by the authorities and that was sad to hear.
“He is part of our team and part of our family for the next few months so we intend to protect and support our players.
“No one knows what is going to happen in Russia but he felt there could something his family experiences and he thought that might distract from his football.”
— England (@England) June 6, 2018
Southgate’s stance on the issue is clear, and he is confident the players will receive sufficient support should they be subject to any abuse.
“It is completely unacceptable,” he added. “The players are clear on where I stand and the support they have from me.
“We don’t want to have to talk about it, but it is important that we do.
“The biggest impact we can have is as one of the most diverse squads to have left England and the way that they all get on and hopefully that message will come through.
“The players, like everyone else, doesn’t really know what to expect. We have had conversations explaining that. We are all hopeful that it will go well, but we are having conversations in case it happens. We have a plan in place. We have personal support, team support and official protocol in place.”
The England manager would like his side to leave the pitch should anything happen during a match, but concedes that will not be possible given it could lead to expulsion by FIFA.
“In an idealistic world people would say to walk off the pitch but that means we would be thrown out of the tournament which many people would agree with,” said Southgate.
“I don’t think the players would want that because they have worked all their lives to play at a World Cup.”
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