England players are prepared to walk off the pitch if any player is racially abused during Euro 2020 qualifiers, Tammy Abraham has said.
The Three Lions face the Czech Republic on Friday before travelling to Bulgaria to play in front of a partially-closed stadium as punishment following charges of racist chanting from June.
How does Uefa’s ‘three-step protocol’ for racist abuse work? Five things to know…
- If a referee becomes aware of ‘serious racist behaviour’ or is informed of it by his fourth official, Uefa say his first step shall be to pause the game.
- A stadium announcement calling for an immediate halt to the behaviour follows.
- If said behaviour does not stop, the second step is to suspend the match for a ‘reasonable period’ of time and send teams to their dressing rooms.
- If, once the game is resumed and player security has been assessed, the racist conduct does not cease the first official “shall definitively abandon” the game as the third and final step.
- There have been several instances of referees failing to adopt the protocol, such as with abuse received by Kalidou Koulibaly last December.
England players have already suffered several instances of discrimination during this qualifying campaign; the likes of Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were targetted during the 5-1 away win against Montenegro in March.
Uefa ordered the partial closure of Bulgaria’s national stadium following racist incidents involving their fans during qualifying games against the Czech Republic and Kosovo in June. Elsewhere, club sides PFC Levski Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv have also been punished in the Europa League.
Abraham insists the entire England squad are standing together in solidarity and are prepared to leave the pitch if such an incident occurs again.
“If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” he said.
“Harry Kane even said that if we’re not happy, if a player is not happy, we all come off the pitch together.”
Last month, Gareth Southgate said he is leaving the ball in his squad’s court with deciding how to respond to racist abuse, and Abraham says England may choose not to follow Uefa’s ‘three-stop protocol’.
“We did speak about [the protocol],” the Chelsea striker added. “Harry Kane 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 with it, as a team we’ll decide whether or not to stay on the pitch.
“If it happens and let’s say there’s a warning or whatever in the stadium, then it happens again, we have to make a decision as a team and with the staff.”
Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold confirmed England plan to follow the three-step protocol, but also admitted he and his teammates may have to take control of the situation themselves if things become “extreme”.
“If it does get extreme we may have to take a different action,” he said.
“It’s a team decision, one that we all need to make. It doesn’t matter if one player is abused or the team – we are one group.
“Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable on the pitch. Everyone should be given the chance to play in a fair environment. We are a team. If one person is abused then we all are, we are one big family.”