The Warm-Up: England plan to walk off the pitch if racially abused

There’s never a right answer to the question of what to do in the face of racist abuse, but Tammy Abraham gave a very good one

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.



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