By Warren Haughton
11th October 2019
FOOTBALL is a win at all cost game.
But there are rare occasions when three points could pale into significance for the greater cause.
Gareth Southgate’s England have come together and laid down the gauntlet.
Any racist abuse hurled at any of the black players during the Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic or Bulgaria and they players will walk off the pitch.
So well done Gareth Southgate for giving his players, who have simply had enough the latitude to take matters into their own hands.
Leaving the pitch would send shockwaves around the world, set a precedent and send a clear message to players that the power is in their hands.
So what would Uefa do if the England players walked off?
They and Fifa don’t care about protecting black players, the punishments they hand out for racism tell their own story.
Stadium protocol for racism?
Been there and done it.
Ask Sulley Muntari and Mario Balotelli how that worked for them.
They ended up getting punished themselves and must wonder why they bothered in the first place.
And how about fines for countries found guilty?
Atalanta were hit with a whopping £9,000 fine by Serie A after their fans hurled racist abuse at Fiorentina defender Dalbert.
Last year Russia were fined £22,000 for the monkey chants directed at Paul Pogba and France during their international in St Petersburg.
It would be a PR disaster to sanction the players or the FA for simply doing the right thing.
That’s the challenge the lies ahead, this England squad has the opportunity to make history and plot a new way forward in tackling racism in football.
And let’s not pretend our house is in order.
Black players up and down the country will be energised if they saw an international side make such an unprecedented stand.
And if it happened to them, which no doubt it will, they should follow suit and walk off the pitch and let’s see what the Premier League, EFL and FA do when it happens in their own back yard.
I have advocated for games played behind closed door if fans of clubs are guilty of racist abuse.
Hit clubs in the pockets hard and beam those pictures around the world of empty Premier League stadia.
The Premier League top brass would not entertain their product exported around the world to be seen in this way and the conversations sparked off the back of it.
Then you sit back and see how quickly the issue is seriously addressed