Downing Street urges ‘swift action’ over England racial abuse

Downing Street has urged European football’s governing body to take “strong and swift action” after England stars were racially abused during their victory over Montenegro.

Raheem Sterling of England scores his team's fifth goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships Group A qualifying match between Montenegro and England. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

England’s 5-1 win in Podgorica was marred by vile abuse, with Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi subjected to monkey chants.

Raheem Sterling celebrated the fifth goal by pulling his ears as a sign of defiance to what he later called on social media “racists”.

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman called for a swift response.

“The abuse England players were subjected to last night was disgusting and completely unacceptable,” the spokesman said.

“It is right that Uefa are now investigating. We urge them to do this quickly and to take strong and swift action”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The racism directed at England’s players in yesterday’s match in Montenegro was truly disgusting.

“Uefa must take action swiftly. Racism has to be confronted and defeated.”

Speaker John Bercow also told the Commons: “Any and all racist abuse is to be utterly and unreservedly condemned, and all of us who have got public voices should take the opportunity to make clear that there can be no justification for that behaviour by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

“Huge work has been done by anti-racist organisations in football and more widely across sport to change behaviour and change the attitudes which underlie abhorrent behaviour.

“It is only a pity to note that despite some fantastic work ... much still remains to be done.”

Mr Bercow was responding to a point of order from shadow sport minister Rosena Allin-Khan, who had said: “I’m sure the whole House will join me in condemning the abhorrent racist abuse directed at England footballers during their match last night.

“I know you will agree we must do everything we can to stamp out this vile behaviour.”