England defender Danny Rose said he was “shocked” that Montenegro were only told to play just one game behind closed doors as punishment for racist chants, insisting the sanction “was not harsh enough”.
UEFA ordered Montenegro to play their next home Euro 2020 qualifier in an empty stadium after Raheem Sterling, Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi were targeted by racist abuse by home supporters during England’s 5-1 win in Podgorica in March.
Sterling celebrated the visitors fifth goal by cupping his ears towards the crowd after a section of supporters were heard directing monkey chants towards England’s black players.
“I don’t think it is a harsh enough punishment for someone to learn from in the future, just a one-game ban and 20,000 euros – its a bit shocking but there is not much I can do now,” Rose told on Friday (April 26).
“I just have to hope that I never have to play there again, its a shame that this where we are now and I just have to get on with it. “I wouldn’t want to go back there, but obviously if I have to play there I will play. It’s not on my list of destinations to visit.”
The UEFA ruling means Montenegro will play their match against Kosovo on June 7 in an empty stadium. England’s Football Association welcomed UEFAs decision to sanction Montenegro and said it hopes the punishment “sends out a message that racism has no place in football or in wider society.”
European football’s governing body also fined the Montenegrin FA 20,000 euros (USD 22,300) for other charges including crowd disturbances, setting off fireworks, throwing objects and blocked stairways.
After the Montenegro incident Sterling, a victim of several instances of racist abuse this season, urged UEFA to impose stadium bans to crack down on the problem. “It’s now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it because you can fine someone, but what is that going to do?” he said.
“You’ve got to make it a bit harder, punish fans that cant come to games. Do something that’s going to make them think twice. If their team cant play with fans, it’s going to be difficult.”
Tottenham left-back Rose said earlier this month that he “can’t wait to see the back of football” because of the lack of decisive action to tackle racism.
England manager Gareth Southgate was left visibly upset about the treatment of his players and called for education to help eradicate racism in the sport. “Sanctions are worthless if there is nothing alongside that to help educate people,” said Southgate.
Racial abusers need to face stringent action
The Montenegrin FA promised to ban any supporters found to have racially abused England’s players, and said it would “undertake all necessary measures to identify the irresponsible individuals.”
“In a multicultural and multi ethnical society as Montenegro is, there is not any space for such conduct,” read a statement from the Balkan country’s football association.
UEFA regulations state that if supporters engage in racist behaviour then “the member association or club responsible is punished with a minimum of a partial stadium closure”.
Article 14 also states that additional sanctions can be imposed depending on the situation, while “disciplinary measures may be combined with specific directives aimed at tackling such conduct”.