Gareth Southgate says football crowd trouble is a 'societal problem'
By Liam Grace
Last Updated: 13/03/19 3:50pm
Gareth Southgate says the recent rise of football crowd trouble is a "societal problem" and stewards would not be needed if fans knew how to behave.
Two supporters were arrested for separate pitch invasions on Sunday, when Jack Grealish was punched during Aston Villa's game against Birmingham, while Chris Smalling was pushed during Manchester United's defeat to Arsenal.
Earlier this season, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling was racially abused by a man in the crowd while a banana was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and organised fights broke out between Millwall and Everton fans.
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson described the Grealish incident, which saw the attacker receive 14 weeks in prison, as the worst he's seen in England while the Football Association said "a line has been crossed" in relation to crowd trouble.
Asked for his views on this season's incidents, Southgate said: "I think everyone will want to work together to make sure the right security measures are in place.
"But frankly we should be living in an era where we don't need stewards. Why should we need stewards to control a crowd, really?
"We should be able to watch a football match and behave ourselves. Clearly some people are unable to do that, so everyone has to work together to make sure the environment is secure for players and other supporters as well.
"If you go down many high streets on the weekend, unless you're oblivious to what goes on in our country, there are unfortunately scenes of inappropriate and antisocial behaviour.
"To see that inside a football ground is disappointing for us as a sport but that is a societal problem as much as it is a football problem."
Southgate hopes that the punishment which saw the Grealish attacker sentenced to 14 weeks in prison and the fan who invaded the game between Arsenal and Manchester United charged with common assault can stop the rise of crowd trouble.
"Hopefully some of the punishments handed out can act as a deterrent so people can realise what is acceptable behaviour in our society," he added.
"The game has become a much friendlier place over the last 20, 30 years I have been involved in it for families, women and children to come to.
"We want that. We want it be a place where everyone can feel safe and enjoy themselves. It would be a huge disappointment if the game drifted back to the way it was to when I was growing up."