Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Montenegro after England players were subjected to racist chants during their resounding Euro 2020 qualifying win at the Podgorica City stadium on Monday.
The governing body’s delegate had received a complaint by England on the night of the game, which the visitors won 5-1, after Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants following his booking for a foul in stoppage time.
Callum Hudson-Odoi confirmed he and Rose had heard supporters “saying monkey stuff” during the first half, with Raheem Sterling making a point of cupping his ears towards the most vociferous section of the home support after scoring England’s fifth goal.
Gareth Southgate suggested post-match that the delegate had already been aware of the chants, with the anti-discrimination body, Fare, having since supported the Football Association’s complaint of racist abuse. Fare had designated the game high risk and sent an experienced observer, who is understood to have confirmed the abuse was clearly audible, most notably after Rose’s caution. Its report backing the FA’s observations was submitted to Uefa on Tuesday morning.
Under Uefa’s disciplinary regulations the minimum sanction to be imposed on Montenegro will be the partial closure of the stadium if they are found guilty by Uefa’s control, ethics and disciplinary commission on 16 May. The governing body has also charged the Montenegrins with setting off fireworks, crowd disturbances, blocking stairways and the throwing of objects. Hudson-Odoi retrieved a cigarette lighter thrown on to the pitch after Sterling’s celebrations.
The Manchester City forward subsequently called for the governing body to close stadiums in the wake of incidents of racism. “It is a shame we are talking about this,” Sterling said. “It is 2019 and there should be a real punishment for this, not just for the few people being banned. You can fine people but what’s that going to do? It needs to be a collective thing.
“This stadium holds 15,000 and I think the punishment should be that, as a nation, if your fans are chanting racist abuse, it should be the whole stadium can’t watch it. Then when that ban is lifted your fans will think twice about doing anything silly like that, because they all love football, they all want to be there to support their nation.”
The Montenegro football federation said it had “always been committed to partnering with international football organisations in the fight against all types of discrimination on the ground and outside”. Its statement added: “We have not had any previous cases of religious, gender or racial discrimination at the matches of our national team. In a multicultural and multiethnic society such as Montenegro, there is no place for such behaviour.”
It pledged to identify any individuals and ban them from national fixtures in the event of any incidents of racism in future.
Hudson-Odoi had been the subject of monkey chants from a small number of Dynamo Kyiv supporters during Chelsea’s 5-0 Europa League win at the Olympic stadium earlier this month, with the team’s captain, César Azpilicueta, having approached the referee at the end of the game.
Chelsea submitted a complaint to Uefa, with Uefa confirming on Tuesday that an ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed to evaluate the complaint.
“I don’t think discrimination should happen anywhere – we’re equal,” said Hudson-Odoi, so impressive on his full debut in Podgorica. “But when you’re hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right. It’s unacceptable. Hopefully Uefa deal with it properly. When Rosey and I went over there, we heard it in the first half, we heard it. They were saying monkey stuff.
“I’ve had it before at Dynamo. We just have to keep our heads, keep a strong mentality. We’ll have a chat about what happened but hopefully Uefa will do something. It’s not right. It’s never right.”
Theresa May’s spokesman said: “The abuse England players were subjected to was disgusting, and completely unacceptable”. He said the prime minister welcomed Uefa’s decision to investigate, adding: “We urge them to do this quickly, and to take strong and swift action.”