NYON/PODGORICA: European federation UEFA has charged Montenegro with racist behaviour after the abuse suffered by England players in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Podgorica.
England won the Group A tie 5-1 but the result was overshadowed by racist chanting from some home fans directed at Callum Hudson-Odoi, Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose.
UEFA said “disciplinary proceedings” had been opened against Montenegro with one charge for “racist behaviour”. The case will be dealt with by European football’s governing body on 16 May.
In a separate development UEFA is also investigating a complaint from Chelsea that Hudson-Odoi was the subject of racist abuse the previous week from Dynamo Kiev fans during their Europa League tie.
England manager Gareth Southgate, speaking after the England match in Montenegro, said: “It’s very sad. We had an excellent performance and have an 18-year-old [Hudson-Odoi] being interviewed after the game having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut.
“I didn’t hear during the early part, but I’m told there were things in the early part of the game as well. I certainly heard when Danny Rose was booked. It was clear to everybody. It’s unacceptable.
“I’ve spoken to our players individually. We’ve got to support them. We will report it. That reporting is already in place because so many people in other areas of the ground heard it. I believe the UEFA delegate also heard it. The players in the dressing room know that as a group of staff and organisation, we’re there for them. That’s the most important thing.”
Sterling had cupped his ears towards the most vociferous section of home support after scoring England’s fifth goal and later called for the authorities to close stadiums in which such incidents have occurred.
He posted a picture of his celebration on Instagram post-match with the caption: “Best way to silence the haters (yeah I mean racists).”
Hudson-Odoi, on his full debut, had picked up a cigarette lighter thrown towards Sterling in the wake of that celebration.
He said: “When I went over there, Rosey and I heard it. They were saying monkey stuff. When you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right … it’s unacceptable and hopefully UEFA deal with it properly.”
Montenegro coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic claimed he had not heard any of the chants and, when pressed, insisted he did not see “the reason why I should be commenting on that”.