John Barnes: England players should have walked off pitch after suffering racist abuse from Bulgaria fans

Gareth Southgate’s side remained on the pitch despite the game being stopped twice after racist chants from the home fans

Jack Rathborn
Tuesday 15 October 2019 10:16
John Barnes: ‘We won’t admit it, because we are afraid of being called racist’

John Barnes insists England players should have walked off the pitch after suffering racist abuse in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria.

The Three Lions ran out 6-0 winners in Sofia, but the game was marred with The FA confirming their players had suffered “abhorrent racist chanting”.

Gareth Southgate’s team remained on the pitch after two stoppages, but Barnes, writing for The Independent, maintains the players should have walked off, especially given their advantage in the game at the time.

“Ahead of last night’s explosive England game we were told the players would walk off if they faced abuse. In reality, only the first two steps of UEFA’s three-step protocol were adhered to,” Barnes wrote.

“It was, in its way, a historic moment. But it fell at the final hurdle.

“Now, as I stated at the beginning, I’m not necessarily a fan of walking off the pitch at anytime, but if it is decided that we are willing to do so, then we must have the courage of our convictions and simply DO IT!

“So, in the second half, when we were 4-0 up, and there was continued racism towards England’s players, albeit less than the first half, we should have seen the inevitable result of our zero tolerance stance on racism, and the third step of that protocol SHOULD have been enforced.

John Barnes insists England players should have walked off pitch (Getty)

“We are used to the timidity of UEFA officials, and so it falls on the England players and staff to make the stand. But we were winning 4-0, so we let our football do the talking. We scored a couple more. That was our answer to to the monkey chants and Nazi salutes: take the three points, and leave the stunning moment that could redefine football’s relationship with racism for another team, another time.”

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