England coach Gareth Southgate has praised Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham for the mature way they handled being racially abused during the win in Hungary on Thursday.
Southgate is preparing his players for the World Cup qualifier with Andorra on Sunday, but the subject of racism was the major talking point once again.
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The England coach feels his players are setting an example for others to follow, and is happy with how Sterling and Bellingham managed the situation in Budapest.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know how many camps we’ve had in the last four years but I seem to have been talking about this subject every time the team has been together,” Southgate said.
I can only reiterate that the players are incredibly mature in the way that they deal with it.
“I think they feel supported by their team-mates which is very important to them and their team-mates must recognise how challenging it can be for our black players and how disappointing it is that in the modern world we continue to have to answer these questions because of the incidents that happen.”
Southgate feels the fight against racism will be a long one, but is happy with the stance his players are taking to raise awareness.
“We know that it’s going to take time and that it feels very slow for everybody but we have to keep fighting that battle,” Southgate said.
“We’re better prepared for it now unfortunately because we’ve had to be. So we’ve learned a lot from the experiences of the past and most importantly in our minds is to be there to support our players.”
Southgate says the players would rather be judged on their on-field actions, but are determined to continue the fight against racism.
“There’s also a balance there that the lads want to get on with their football, and as much as it’s important that we talk about these things publicly, they don’t want that to be the uppermost conversation they want their performances on the pitch to be recognised,” the Three Lions boss said.
“When they played as well as they did the other night they want to be talking about that, they recognise their wider responsibilities and at the right moments they want to affect those things but when they’re playing, they want to be judged on their playing.”
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Source: Euro Sports