DAVID JAMES has urged England not to walk off the pitch in the event of racist abuse in either of their next two Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Striker Tammy Abraham has said the team are prepared to ignore Uefa protocols and leave the field against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria if there is any repeat of the sort of abuse directed at England’s black players during the qualifier in Montenegro in March.
But former England goalkeeper James, who suffered racist abuse during his playing career, believes the best approach is to play on.
He said: ‘When you’re going to a particular environment, you have to understand that if there isn’t a protocol by Uefa to leave the pitch then you have to stick to the rules.
‘Providing there is no physical danger to players, the best way they can answer abuse is by playing the best they can, winning the game, walking off the pitch at the end of 90 minutes and putting in a complaint.’
Uefa has a three-step protocol in the event of racist abuse. First an announcement is made on the public address system ordering the abuse to stop, and if it persists the referee will take the teams off the field for a period. If the abuse then continues, the game is abandoned.
‘Tammy Abraham is a great footballer,’ James added. ‘I don’t want him to suffer any abuse at all, but he can answer that kind of abuse with a five-star performance.
‘As a footballer you have to have thick skin, and that doesn’t condone any kind of racial abuse, but it does show you are capable of playing under extreme provocation. You’ll be the greater man if you show you can perform in these conditions.’
They said it
‘We need to be professional. We have an obligation to follow the protocols. If it does get to the extreme, different action might be taken’ — England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold says ‘extreme’ circumstances could see players veer from official protocols
■ WOLVES’ Europa League game at Slovan Bratislava this month will be behind closed doors after Uefa rejected the Slovak club’s appeal. Slovan, charged after fans made racist chants gainst PAOK, have already played once behind closed doors this season.