Why England will NOT walk off the pitch over racist behaviour

The media have been patting England’s player on the back’s this morning for agreeing to walk off the pitch if they are subjected to any racist behaviour this week, like they have in prior away games.

“If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us,” Tammy Abraham said.

“Harry Kane even said that if we’re not happy, if a player is not happy, we all come off the pitch together.”

Many believe it will send out a strong message and get the world’s attention. If FIFA got angry, while in the short term we could be fined or even have points deducted, long term that makes the fight against racial abuse even better. Imagine the pressure the World’s Governing Body would be under if they were seen to be handing out harsher sanctions for those being abused rather than the guilty individuals. Sponsors would find it a PR disaster to be in business with an institution who punish someone for having zero tolerance to discrimination, something you don’t have to tolerate in any other workplace. It might take those in charge of the game to lose some money to do what’s right to save their own image. Yet I’ll it believe when I see it.

What the English squad actually said is, if they heard anything unwanted from the crowd, they would ask the person being targeted if he feels comfortable to carry on in such an environment.

The sad reality is we have got to the point where I would not be shocked if there is some kind of incident on Friday or next Monday. My surprise would be if the Three Lions went as far as to walk off the pitch.

If anything, the likes of Sterling and Abraham would be under unfair pressure. Bad enough to be subjected to insults because of the colour of their skin, they then have to make a decision that will be scrutinised by the world. If for example there is a repeat of the monkey chants in Montenegro and the match just carries on, it means we have accepted the situation instead of taking a zero-tolerance attitude. That’s why I prefer a senior player or Gareth Southgate to make it clear, they won’t accept racism, no ifs or buts, and they will be walking off if it happens because there is zero excuse for it to be occurring in 2019.

By saying ‘we will see how they feel’, is a line from the PR team pacifying FIFA and not getting the FA into any bother. Why would that be?

They don’t want a fine….

A stadium Ban …….

Points taken away which harm qualification….

In other words, ……… money.

The same reason FIFA only slap sides on the wrist for racism is the same reason England will see how they feel. In reality it’s easier to take the 3 points and go home then do what is the right thing to do. Ironically if no one had said anything nothing would be said, but now our players are under pressure to show how far they will go to fight against this unlawful act, just how much does it disgust them?

Why would this week be any different when this country has turned the other cheek for years? That’s right, as much as we are quick to criticize the likes of Russia and Italy for allowing fans to police their own stadium, what have we actually done to show we will not put up with it? Why didn’t Man City walk off the field when Sterling was caught on TV being abused by Chelsea fans? Why didn’t Auba do the same when he had a banana thrown at him? Why was there not a protest from our media for walk outs?

Imagine Sky Sports coverage being interrupted by players protesting. Why do our press not suggest punishment for fans who have sent racial tweets to the likes of Pogba or Rashford, yet are quick to ask Montenegro to be punished?

Broadcasters would go crazy, it would have an impact on the next TV deal, sponsors would be less keen to back the sport, while it be hard for the Premier League to promote their brand as ‘The best in the world’ if suddenly stadiums were empty or games being disrupted.

That’s why we won’t walk off the field, because in reality we are no different to the like of Montenegro or Bulgaria, we don’t have a zero tolerance towards racism.

Dan Smith


  1. I feel there’s a danger of over reacting here..

    As a player, I agree that racial abuse should have zero tolerance. Full Stop!!

    If the abuse is isolated to individuals then why walk away or stop a game? That may be reason they do it. Like a troll. They want to cause harm and disruption. Individuals can be dealt with instantly with most modern tech. However, if it is crowd or group of people which are involved, then a firm stance should be made. An immediate investigation should be made whilst the game continues. If the situation is not able to be contained, then the game should be stopped.

    The biggest problem in football is that Racist’s will always be there. It’s not decreasing, however much we want it to! FIFA cannot control what happens in the stands. Only what happens on the pitch and what happens to individual football governing bodies. It’s easy and actually quite lucrative for FIFA to fine millions of pounds but the problem will remain while FIFA get richer!!

    I believe the way forward is to invest in tech (Cameras and Sonic equipment), specially trained stewarding and better monitoring systems to identify the culprits and “Life ban them” from attending club and international games!

    With all the money FIFA has charged clubs over the years I’m sure that will help fund it. It is the governing bodies that need to protect the players. As do we!!

    Don’t let football suffer because of idiots!! The idiots should suffer with no football!!!

    1. @GunnerRay,

      Actually FIFA cannot control off the pitch activities (of the crowd). However, FIFA is not dishing out enough punishment to the offenders.

      1). Thorough investigation.

      2). 6 points deduction should be effected immidiately if the alleged is found guilty. Even if it takes the team to -6 points.

      3). Banishing them to play their remaining games in another country, probably another continent. I wish it could be in the country/Continent of the abused player.

      4) Heavy financial penalty should be applied after 1-3 have been effected.

        1. No they won’t…if the clubs take the necessary precautions and the regular fans identify to the stewards exactly who is doing the chanting, these slobs would be out in seconds.

          I seem to remember Phil saying that he identified two of our supporters to the stewards in an away match and that is the way responsible fans would react.

          The authorities would then identify and follow up on these individuals to ascertain the facts – in this day and age it is so simple to do – it took very little time to identify the “fan” who ran on to the pitch at the Emirates or the chelsea moron who abused Sterling.

          If clubs knew what severe penalties were in force, they would act swiftly.

          While we keep finding excuses not to act, racism will continue to flourish.

      1. @ sanmi, that is what I said “FIFA cannot control what happens in the stands”..

        As for deducting points, it does NOT deter the individuals from racially abusing a player and is not going to fix the problem. It will just make football as a competition all the more problematic! Professional players will suffer on behalf of hooligans and racist scumbags.

        That is why I feel if we can stop the problem at root level (actively during the game), we can all enjoy football!!

        Also, when attending games as fans, we should all be on the lookout for those who are abusive and report them as soon as it happens. The more scumbags that get kicked out, the better chance of it NOT happening again!

      1. Absolutely concur GunneRay, but to ensure any club treats this issue as a top priority, there has to be a reason for them to act swiftly and the ultimate weapon is deduction of points, large fines and exclusion from tournaments.

        Players would soon boycott clubs that didn’t adhere to basic human rights issues.

        1. Absolutely Ken, all i’m saying is that deducting points and fines is not enough alone. We all need to be active as fans, players, clubs and football governing bodies 🙂

  2. Dan Smith, I knew as I read the article that you would be the author – I congratulate you on a brilliant overview.

    gunneray has also made some excellent points as well, choosing a different scenario as to how we cut out this scurge of, not only football, but in life itself.

    I believe the governing bodies (fifa – europe and home countries ) need to be more pro active in trying to sort out the problem, but they are so feeble.
    The recent fine given to Barcelona over transfer dealings, shows just what i mean.

    At the start of the season, clubs should be made aware that point deductions will be the norm concerning racial problems – followed by a fine that relates to the club concerned.

    For example, fine The Arsenal £500,000 and Luton £50,000 and both clubs forfeit the three points.

    It wouldn’t take long for honest fans to identify those morons, if the club they support got these kind of sentences.

    As for different countries, deduction of points again and the ban of world cup participation / eufa / african cup etc etc for starters.

    While we skip around the issue with paltry fines and nice sounding word bites, the ignorant neanderthal morons will just laugh in the face of society.

    If abuse is thrown at our players in the upcoming England game, they will get my support 100%% if they walk off – it’s time for some REAL action to be taken.

  3. Really it is high time FIFA is arm twisted to take the 21st century stand on this. Today is a shame on Fifa we are speculating on event that should no more come to mind. This is business through and through. If you are racist, find another trade or source of pleasure.
    The decadence and all forms of embezzlement in football is reason we are having this conversion. In 1985, Nigeria won the very first and really keenly contested Under 17 or 18, which was sponsored majorly by Kodak, the photo giant terminated contract to continue another competition. I cannot recall Fifa taking racism as antisocial and football is a social game, 22 set of people interacting in a match. Fifa simply just sought other sponsor. I do not know anybody who could have imagine a whole institution of Kodak stature would so conduct themselves that way. Most likely, some of Fifa’s photos thereafter were still developed from Kodak films!
    So, no surprise, we are having this discussion 34 years it should have been buried properly.

  4. If a team is winning they aren’t going to want to come off and that could be an excuse for the slur, hoping that they walk off. If the game is a meaningful game they won’t walk off, it’d be a bigger statement but it could be the individuals intention for the remarks. Also, racism isn’t only about black players, white players and others will receive it too, I say this because whenever I’m reading online I see a lot of hate being thrown around.

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