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England: Gareth Southgate understands Bulgaria reaction to racism concerns

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By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Prague
England manager Gareth Southgate says he understands the football authorities fury at proposals racism could overshadow the Euro 2020 qualifier of Monday.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham said on Wednesday Englands players will be prepared to walk off whenever they suffered similar abuse that directed at them through Marchs qualifier in Montenegro.
Southgate, talking earlier Fridays interview with the Czech Republic in Prague, has held a meeting explaining to handling incidents the official three-step Uefa protocol – but Englands concerns prompted an angry response.
At a letter to Uefa, he called Englands remarksthe unjust branding of local audiences as people likely to discriminatory behaviour.
Mondays match against Bulgaria will be played at a partially closed stadium, together with 5,000 of the 46,000 chairs to be left following behaviour by Bulgaria enthusiasts against Kosovo along with the Czech Republic in June, something Mihaylov doesnt address in his correspondence.
However, Southgate said:I can completely understand the Bulgarian president believes like he does because we have purely been responding honestly to questions we have been asked.
That has been around Bulgaria in whatever way its been relayed and how its been pitched might appear provocative, or that we are the folks laying the topic on the table.
Therefore, if I had been him, and I was just reading these quotes and not knowing the context of why the things were said and the responses, I would feel probably as he can.
We arent attempting to create a situation in any respect, away from it. Were all hoping that over the next 72 hours we speaking about two soccer matches.
I think both countries would have a powerful desire for that and I have to say we dont look at other countries in a manner we do not glow a mirror on our own.
Southgate stated:What occurred in Hartlepool a couple of weeks back was probably worse than things I have heard or seen about in many different nations on earth. So, I believe we have to be very careful in how we insure everything.
There were allegations of racist abuse at Dover Athletic at September and a game between Hartlepool United.
Uefa protocol decrees that in case of chanting the referee will request an announcement to be broadcast in the arena, and if it doesnt stop he or she will take off the players, originally temporarily but indefinitely if necessary.
Southgate included:The most significant thing for me personally was that each of the players and each one of the staff know theyre supported, that we are together on each problem moving forward and of course, necessarily, because weve suffered a situation in Montenegrowe desired to become clear what could happen if something else happened later on.
Were very clear on this. Theres obviously the Uefa process and we will need to have faith in that procedure.
Recently, a match has been stopped in Italy due to that and then whatever else is hypothetical because we do not understand the situation that well be in as a team, or that Ill be a supervisor. But, we are very clear in terms of all. We need the players to have the ability to focus on soccer. They want to be judged in their football and what I have got to do is supply a safe and secure environment to perform .
England striker Raheem Sterling admitted the squad were not prepared for the abuse that they received in Podgorica but now there has to be religion in Uefas system.
He said:With the situation that occurred in Montenegro, I do not think that as a group we were very prepared and knowing there was a protocol set up.
We had a meeting as a group and Gareth sat us down and explained Uefas routine and today, as players, weve got to give Uefa a chance to take that responsibility on board and deal with the circumstance. However, yes, Ive full liberty in Uefa.
England have maximum points and victory at Prague on Friday will confirm qualification for Euro 2020.

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