Alexander-Arnold: England may take different action to UEFA protocol over racial abuse

Trent Alexander-Arnold feels that any “extreme” racial abuse could lead to England players taking different action from the UEFA protocols.

But his Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez warned walking off the pitch could play into the hands of the culprits.

The Three Lions travel to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria for back-to-back Euro 2020 qualifiers this weekend.

The second game, in Sofia, will be particularly scrutinised as the hosts will be playing with the Vasil Levski National Stadium partially closed as a sanction following racism in the home games against both Kosovo and the Czech Republic.

England Training Session – St George’s Park
Gareth Southgate insists England will follow UEFA’s protocol on racism (Joe Giddens/PA)

England’s players received similar abuse in their qualifier against Montenegro in Podgorica, where they stayed on the pitch and ran out 5-1 winners.

UEFA’s three-step protocol for racial abuse is in place to attempt to deal with any such incidents.

The first step is for the referee to made aware of any racism and halt the game for an announcement to be made, secondly – if the abuse continues – the referee will suspend the game for a period of time.

The third and final step will see the official abandon the game, with Tammy Abraham suggesting that, if England’s players believe someone is not comfortable, captain Harry Kane will lead them off the field of play before the three steps are played out if they are not working.

England Training Session – St George’s Park
Trent Alexander-Arnold, left, and Joe Gomez, right, believe England may take different action to UEFA’s protocol (Joe Giddens/PA)

Alexander-Arnold believes the protocols will be followed but that, in any potentially threatening situation, a different course of action may be appropriate.

“We had the meeting with the team and the staff,” he said.

“We talked, everyone was happy and content with the way it went. We all understand what would happen if that situation occurred.

“UEFA have their way of doing it, the way we need to follow. That’s what we’re going to do.

“As a team, we’re all agreed we need to follow the protocol in place. Obviously as a team, as UEFA will make their decisions, we’ll also make our decisions and we’ll have a discussion about that if that time ever comes. Hopefully it doesn’t.

“We need to be professional athletes. We have an obligation to follow the protocols, that’s what we need to do. If it does get to the extreme, maybe different action might be taken.

“Hopefully that doesn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen in modern football. We’re going there hoping nothing will happen and I’m sure nothing will.”

While walking off the pitch may be seen by many as taking a strong stand against racial abuse, defender Gomez feels cases may have to be judged on individual merit.

“I think there is a clear standpoint in what the opinion is on the whole matter,” he told talkSPORT.

“It is outrageous really that it is still going on in this day and age but I think it is a balancing act in your response, whether you feed into it or not and give them the satisfaction.

Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez feels walking off could suggest to abusers they have won (Joe Giddens/PA)

“For instance, if you come off the pitch, those sort of people might think they have won because if they are that naive to do it in the first place, they might be that slow in their thinking that it is a win for them.

“We all had a discussion and there is clear protocol in place and what we would should do – we don’t need to jump to conclusions that it will even take place in the future because hopefully we are moving away from it.

“But if it does happen, we all have to be united as a team and a country as a whole – it isn’t just the players on the pitch. It is the whole FA, England set-up and the staff as well. I think we are together, as one, and we know what we would do.”

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