England to reconsider walk-off in face of racism in Bulgaria
Last Updated: 12/09/19 11:38am
England's players will discuss whether they should walk off the pitch in protest if they face racist abuse while playing in Bulgaria next month, Sky Sports News has learned.
Bulgaria have been punished by UEFA after their fans were found guilty of racist behaviour in their games against Kosovo and Czech Republic in June.
As a result, England's European Qualifier in Sofia on October 14 will be played in front of a reduced crowd, but the FA and English police are making specific preparations in case similar abuse occurs during that game.
The England squad had specific discussions with Gareth Southgate and the FA before last summer's World Cup about how they would react to abuse at the tournament in Russia, with the overwhelming consensus among the players at that point being to remain on the pitch, and make formal complaints after the game.
However, with incidents of racism in the game and online having occurred frequently since then, Southgate is keen to gauge from his squad whether their feelings about walking off the pitch in protest have been altered.
A specific meeting will be held at St George's Park when the squad convenes next month, so that the players and staff are 100 per cent clear on how they want to react as a united group.
A fan in the Bulgaria end at Wembley on Saturday was ejected from the stadium after a steward heard him directing racist abuse at Raheem Sterling.
Danny Rose, Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi were subjected to similar racist chanting when England played in Podgorica in March, after which Montenegro were ordered to play their next home game behind closed doors as a punishment.
Meanwhile, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Kurt Zouma have faced racist abuse either online or in the stands during the opening weeks of the season.