England captain Harry Kane has called for “stronger punishments” for racism after the Three Lions were caught up in an abuse storm on Monday night.
There were two breaks in play during the Euro 2020 qualifier with Bulgaria in Sofia after racist chanting was reported to the match officials – with England eventually running out comfortable 6-0 winners.
Following UEFA’s anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.
England decided at half-time to play the remainder of the game as braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling and goals for Marcus Rashford and Kane ensured a thumping win for the visitors.
A three-step protocol from the governing body would have allowed the officials to take the teams off for a break in play as a second measure – before ultimately taking the final step of abandoning the game.
But, speaking after victory and all of the abhorrent behaviour of the evening, Kane questioned whether being given three chances is the right way to punish offenders – echoing the view of Football Association chairman Greg Clarke.
“Whether the UEFA protocol is strong enough, I am not sure,” he said.
“Whether any racial abuse should be allowed at any time… well it shouldn’t be.
Great performance and I’m proud of the togetherness we showed in some disgraceful circumstances. Racism has no place in society or football. It needs stamping out for good. Also a massive congrats to @OfficialTM_3 on a great debut 👏 #ThreeLionspic.twitter.com/yS9pEFeXie— Harry Kane (@HKane) October 14, 2019
“The protocol at the moment allows there to be an announcement and two or three steps before the players are taken off the pitch.
“It is unacceptable to be racist once so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols but from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that is the most important thing.”
After the first-half incidents, the players spoke in the changing room at half-time, with Kane praising the fortitude of his colleagues for wanting to continue the match despite the issues.
“I’m definitely proud of my team-mates and my friends and everyone involved with our nation tonight,” he added.
“It wasn’t easy for anyone, we made a decision as a team to carry on playing, you saw us come together before half-time and we said we would play until half-time, get together and decide what we wanted to do.
“Everyone wanted to carry on and do their talking on the pitch, which I am extremely proud of.
“It is not easy to play in circumstances like that but the 6-0 victory and the way we played, the manner in which we played I’m extremely proud of for sure.
“There was a discussion in the changing room and everyone wanted to carry on playing. If there were players who didn’t we wouldn’t have come back out and played.
“That shows the maturity and the character that everyone wanted to come back out and play.”
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