Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has thrown his support behind Danny Rose, Raheem Sterling and Romelu Lukaku for their recent stands against racism, and has called on football authorities to do more to protect the players from such abuse whilst on the football field.
Tottenham defender Danny Rose recently said that he "can't wait to see the back of football" and is frustrated at the lack of action taken against incidents of racism in football, following racist chanting directed at several England players during the recent Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro. Uefa has charged Montenegro with racist behaviour but Rose does not expect a significant punishment, stating that he will play on but has "had enough" of racism in the game and "will be glad to see the back of football".
During his pre-match media commitments, Hodgson, who managed Rose whilst England manager said the comments were “very sad”. He added: “It’s very disturbing that a player of that quality, at the age he is – he’s still relatively young, he has an awful lot of football left in him - makes that sort of decision that maybe the racism side of the game is getting so bad and getting on top of him that he’s even considering leaving it all behind earlier than he should. That’s very disturbing.
“All I can say is – I think the authorities are aware as ever they have been of this problem. It’s very good that people like Danny and Raheem are speaking out, Romelu Lukaku came out strongly too – and making it perfectly clear to everybody, that these powerful voices that people should be listening to, because these are big, big players for fans of football clubs all over the world, that they’re saying the right things, and I think the authorities will listen.
“If they’re ever going to make more powerful measures – that’s something that needs to be sat down and talked about. It shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction in terms of what proposals we’re putting forward to deal with it. It should really be a very, very serious discussion and it’s got to start at FIFA and UEFA level – because a lot of the problems that we’re coming across – we’ve seen the recent one in Cagliari, Italy - are taking place outside of our own shores and, not least of all, when our players are playing in UEFA comptitions, Champions League, Europa League and national team games."
Hodgson was adamant that more needs to be done to protect the players, adding: “My sympathy is 100% with the players – when the measures are put forward - I’ll be strongly behind the players to make certain they get more protection than they feel they’re getting at the moment. It’s up to us to listen to these very powerful voices, because these are people who aren’t opening their mouth to talk about it lightly. I’m certain they’re thinking quite seriously before saying something as strong as Raheem said a while ago, and now Danny. It will be a great tragedy if players of their quality are lost to the game of football.”
Asked whether he as a coach would remove the players from play if abuse ever got so bad, Hodgson said: “I think it would come from the player – it would be the player himself who would remove himself or want to be removed from the field of play. I certainly wouldn’t be the first to be trying to push him back on there.
"But remember, football players are responsible people, and they have a responsibility to their team-mates. So if players are going to leave the field, we’ll all be sympathetic to it if they’re coming across racial abuse – then we must make sure the authorities do not punish the whole team for it. I’m certain the players won’t want to be coming off the field if that means their team loses the game 3-0, and have to forfeit the game.
“When this happens, there needs to be a measure in place – that the action is seen as it should be seen, ie. a very clear statement that his is not acceptable, we cannot go on like this. When this day comes, I will be one of the first to support the players. But hopefully we’ll have sorted things out a little bit better before then, and hopefully FIFA and UEFA will be able to sort their house out so when our players go abroad to play, they don’t experience it abroad.”
Crystal Palace Football Club are proud, longstanding supporters of Kick It Out, as well as the recent Premier League initiative 'No room for racism'. There is no place in society, nor football, for discrimination of any kind and as a club we are proudly open to all.