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Montenegro charged after racist chanting toward England players

Gareth Southgate is deepy saddened after hearing monkey chants directed at his players during England's Euro 2020 qualifying match against Montenegro.
Callum Hudson-Odoi calls on UEFA to take action and condemns the fans responsible for the monkey chants he heard during England's win over Montenegro.
Shaka Hislop calls on UEFA to do more than assessing a monetary fine, following alleged racial abuse directed at England players in Montenegro.

UEFA have charged Montenegro following the racist chants directed at England players in Monday's Euro 2020 qualifying match.

Callum Hudson-Odoi said he heard monkey chants during England's 5-1 victory, while Raheem Sterling and England coach Gareth Southgate said they heard abuse directed towards left-back Danny Rose.

UEFA have clarified to ESPN they believe this is Montenegro's first offence relating to racist chanting and as such, the minimum punishment if found guilty is a partial stadium closure. A fine would only be handed down for a second offence. 

"I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game," Southgate said. "There's no doubt in my mind that happened and we'll report it to UEFA. It's not acceptable."

A UEFA statement confirmed on Tuesday that Montenegro have been charged with racist behaviour as well as a string of other offences.

"Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the European Qualifiers group A match between Montenegro and England (1-5), played on 25 March in Montenegro," the statement read. 

"Charges against Montenegro:

- Setting off of fireworks - Art. 16 (2) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations
- Throwing of objects - Art. 16 (2) DR
- Racist behaviour - Art. 14 DR
- Crowd disturbances - Art. 16 (2) DR
- Stairways blocked - Art. 38 of the UEFA Safety and Security Regulations

"The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary on 16 May."

A spokesperson for the English Football Association said: "On Monday evening, England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro. This is unacceptable at any level of the game and we welcome UEFA's decision today to take disciplinary action.

"Our immediate focus is on supporting UEFA with their investigation and the players and staff involved.

"The issues we saw last night are not isolated to any specific country, and despite progress English football still has its own incidents of discrimination. Our experience is that by combining both sanctions and education, whilst working alongside campaigners such as Kick It Out, real progress can be made. But there remains much work to be done.

"Football is a game For All and we must all take responsibility to work together and share our experiences and learnings to tackle discrimination in the game."

Sterling said after the match: "It's a shame to see this keep going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation. It's now time for the people in charge to stamp it out. You can fine someone but what's that going to do? You've got to make it a bit harder.

"You've got to do something that will really make them think twice because if their team can't play with fans it's going to be difficult for them."

Southgate added: "I know what I heard. We'll definitely deal with it in the right way and we have to make sure we support our players."

The Professional Footballers' Association, the trade union for professional footballers in England and Wales, said it was "dismayed" with the behaviour of a selection of fans in Monday's qualifier.

PFA head of equalities Simone Pound said: "The racist chanting leaves a slur on the game and a horrible sense of deja vu for many black players who have experienced the same thing whilst representing England over the course of many years.

"We are dismayed by the racial abuse that England's black players endured."

PFA deputy chief executive and FIFPro European president Bobby Barnes spoke with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Tuesday to discuss the incidents from the Group A encounter. 

"Aleksander reiterated his commitment to dealing with this stain on our game and to taking strong action once the evidence has been properly examined," Barnes said. 

Ceferin said of racism in European football: "It is a disaster. I cannot believe these people still exist."

And the office of British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday also urged soccer authorities to take strong action against Montenegro.

"The abuse England players were subjected to last night was disgusting and completely unacceptable," said James Slack, the prime minister's spokesman. "It is right that UEFA are now investigating. We urge them to do this quickly and to take strong and swift action."

A statement from the Montenegrin Football Association read: "In the case that racist behaviour at the stadium be supported by evidence in further proceedings, Football Association of Montenegro will undertake all necessary measures to identify the irresponsible individuals who might have incited such behaviour which will constitute the grounds for their being banned from all matches organised by our Association."

Meanwhile, UEFA also confirmed an ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed to evaluate a complaint lodged by Chelsea about alleged racist abuse of Hudson-Odoi during the club's 5-0 Europa League win away at Dynamo Kiev on March 14.

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