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07th Jun 2022

Gareth Southgate admits risk of racial abuse could sway who takes England’s penalties

Daniel Brown

Southgate racism penalties

‘We have now got another layer that is going to make it extremely difficult for us to win anything’

Gareth Southgate admits the racist abuse received by black England players after the Euro 2020 final defeat has added “another layer” of complexity when thinking about who to select for crucial spot-kicks.

Three Lions players Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were subject to racial abuse after they missed penalties in the shootout loss against Italy last summer.

The UK Football Policing Unit received 600 reports of racist comments sent to England’s black players after the match, with 207 rules to be criminal. In August, police confirmed they had arrested 11 people in connection with the abuse.

Southgate racism penalties

Southgate says it’s created ‘another layer’

When asked whether the abuse his players received could influence who takes a penalty in the next shootout, Southgate said: “I have to say it never crossed my mind before… it will.

“When I set out for the game that day I couldn’t help but feel, ‘Have I created this situation here for the boys?’

“But it wouldn’t be right to not pick the players you think are best to take them because of what the possible consequences of them missing would be. I’ve got to pick them on the belief they are going to score.

“We have had 55 years of talking about penalties and everything else. So we have now got another layer that is going to make it extremely difficult for us to win anything.”

Southgate racism penalties

‘It’s outrageous to even think about’

The 51-year-old Southgate – who missed a penalty in the semi-final shootout loss to Germany in Euro 1996 – insists that criticising players for missing penalties because of their race is nonsensical.

“We know that’s ludicrous,” he added. “It’s outrageous to even think about.

“I’m trying to balance whether the question is about the racism itself, which is abhorrent and unacceptable, and what you are identifying, that there is another layer of complexity in making that decision.

“We went through a process of preparing for penalties. We have definitely reviewed that. Some of the boys have taken more with their clubs.

“Chelsea’s Reece James has had four in shootouts this year. Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool has had two. Bukayo has now taken a couple for his club Arsenal, which were massively courageous moments that epitomised what he is about.”

Southgate racism penalties

England boss says Three Lions have to be ‘aware’

The Three Lions boss also suggested that he’s got to ‘take all of those things into consideration’ when choosing who will take a spot-kick.

He added: “But indirectly, we have created another layer of difficulty in overcoming a penalty shootout. I have got to take all of those things into consideration and it is incredibly complex.

“One of the things that was very clear was that all the other big nations had far more who take regularly for their club.

“We only had Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, who was the second one in after Bruno Fernandes really.

“We have got to do that work. Maybe they are getting some practice with clubs, which definitely Chelsea and Liverpool did this year. But we have got to cover that work in our camps on the days we can and make it really focused and specific.

“We are doing what we can. Psychology is definitely a part of it and I have to be aware of all of those things.”

England travel to Germany to face off against Hansi Flick’s side in Munich, hoping to bounce back from there disappointing defeat to Hungary last week.

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