Tammy Abraham says England’s players have resolved to walk off the pitch in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia on Monday if they are subjected to racist abuse.
The Chelsea striker, who has been called up for his first competitive senior matches for the national side, also revealed that the squad had discussed defying UEFA protocols.
The governing body has a three-step procedure that it insists must be followed in the event of racist chants from the stands. The first two steps are an appeal over the PA system for the abuse to stop, after the referee has been notified, and a temporary suspension to the game. If neither works, the official should abandon the match.
In Abraham’s opinion, there ought to be only one step. If there is any racist chanting, he feels the players should leave the field straight away – and he said that the England captain, Harry Kane, had led a conversation on that issue at a team meeting on Monday.
England face Czech Republic in Prague on Friday before they travel to Sofia, where the racism fears have been sparked by the behaviour of the Bulgaria support in the qualifiers against the Czechs and Kosovo in June.
As punishment, Bulgaria’s Stadion Vasil Levski has been partially closed for the next two internationals, one of which is the England game.
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“We’ve had meetings about it [racist abuse from the crowd] and we’ve touched base on how to deal with the situation,” Abraham said. “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.