Roy backing officials on racism
Roy Hodgson has confirmed he will stand by any referee who decides to take teams off the pitch at Euro 2012 due to an outbreak of racial abuse.
Last Updated: 02/06/12 3:54pm
England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed he will stand by any referee who decides to take teams off the pitch at Euro 2012 due to an outbreak of racial abuse.
The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already opted not to watch the Three Lions in Ukraine this summer for fear of being targeted by racist groups.
Hodgson believes it is an important issue and his players were addressed by Holocaust survivors Zigi Shipper and Ben Helfgott MBE at their Hertfordshire headquarters on Thursday.
Hodgson believes it is up to UEFA to come up with a collective decision on what would happen if players were racially abused at Euro 2012, but says he would be willing to walk off should a match official order it.
"My stance is very simple: it's a matter for referees and UEFA," he said.
"You're talking about something that is abhorrent to anybody, not just in football, but in every walk of life.
"It's a topical question and one that I'm sure has been heavily debated in UEFA for the last four years.
"What we can do? We've qualified for a football tournament and we want to play to the best of our ability.
"This very important problem has got to be taken care of outside the footballing family.
"If UEFA decide that this is what the referee will do (walk off), we will be the first people to side along with that.
"But we, as football people, shouldn't be taking the initiative.
"I want UEFA and referees to control the issue."
Shipper delivered a powerful image of life in Nazi Germany to England's players, some of whom will visit the site of one of the worst atrocities ever known next Friday.
"It was brought home to me with great effect," said Hodgson.
"When you listen to survivors of the holocaust, born in Poland who have a story to tell of how prejudice cost them everything but their lives.
"They happened to be two of the lucky ones."
England's players presented Shipper with his own replica shirt after his moving presentation, which was graphic in its detail.
"I told them about babies being shot, about babies being put in gas chambers," he said.
"The players really listened. You could have heard a pin drop.
"It was very powerful. I told the players: 'You are role models, people listen to you, you must spread the message about the Holocaust'.
"Some people don't know about the Holocaust.
"Racism is terrible."