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Players are near to walking off the pitch

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England’s Callum Hudson-Odoi

England’s Callum Hudson-Odoi

Action Images via Reuters

England’s Callum Hudson-Odoi

Anti-racism campaigners believe players are nearing the point when they will walk off the pitch if they continue to be subject to racist abuse, but concede it will be a "massive decision" to take.

England players including Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were abused during Monday's 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory in Montenegro.

UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Montenegro, including a charge of racist behaviour which, if proven, "is punished with a minimum of a partial stadium closure", according to the regulations of European football's governing body.

Troy Townsend, head of development for anti-racism charity Kick It Out, questions whether UEFA is "brave enough" to go further and ban teams from competitions and feels players could take matters into their own hands if the issue does not improve.

"What I would like is stadium closures, expulsions from competitions, federations held accountable for not just the players but the supporters in their care," Townsend said. "Whether they're brave enough or not I will question that all day.

"But I think the first time that happens (tournament expulsion) will send a massive message out that this is not acceptable any more.

"At some point I do believe there will be a time when, if this continues, we will get to a stage where players will take the matter into their own hands and managers will do what is right for those players at that moment in time and consider the fact that maybe it's not worth it just for three points."

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti said he would take his players off the pitch the next time they were subject to abuse after Kalidou Koulibaly was targeted during a game with Inter Milan last year.


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