Three Lions coach says football will continue to fight for a more tolerant and respectful society
England manager Gareth Southgate has warned those who engage in racist and other abuse online that they are on the ‘losing side’ as he pledged to use his platform to help fight prejudice.
An increasing number of gamers have been the victims of racist and other forms of abuse online in recent months.
A social media blackout was organized by the various stakeholders in English football over a match weekend towards the end of the season to raise awareness of this issue, and Southgate says he and his players will continue to push for a more “society” tolerant and understanding ”.
What did Southgate say?
In an open letter to English fans on the Players’ stand, the Three Lions boss said, “Social media has been a key resource in giving our players a platform and has been a positive tool in many ways. In fact, I feel like this generation of England players are closer to the fans than they have been in decades. Despite the polarization we see in society, these guys are on the same page as you on a lot of things.
“That said, there are times when my parenting instincts come into play. I can’t help it. After all, I’m old enough to be the father of most of my players!
“I see players scrolling through their phones right after the final whistle and I’m like ‘hmmm, is that a good idea?’
“Reading abusive comments on Twitter or Instagram will never improve performance.
“There are real risks to our players online and I will always want to protect them, but I would never put rules on how and when they use their accounts while on duty in England. I trust them and I know they are mature enough to make their own decisions, do what is right for their sanity, and continue to be a force for good as we strive to improve society.
“The last 18 months have put extra pressure on everyone, I know that. The ventilation that could have taken place on exiting the stadium or in the pub has been transferred online. I understand. However, there are things that I will never understand.
“Why would you want to identify someone in an abusive conversation?” Why would you choose to insult someone for something as ridiculous as the color of their skin? Why ?
“Unfortunately for people who engage in this kind of behavior, I have bad news. You are on the losing side. It is clear to me that we are moving towards a much more tolerant and understanding society, and I know that our guys will play an important role in it.
Players will continue to fight for equality
Southgate also says he and his players will continue to use their high profile to push for positive change in society.
The issue took on greater significance last week when a section of England fans booed the players who got down on their knees ahead of their matches against Austria and Romania.
Southgate, who has previously reiterated that players will continue to kneel before games to draw attention to racial injustice, rejects suggestions that they should not get involved in such issues.
“I never believed we had to stick to football,” he added.
“I know my voice carries weight, not because of who I am, but because of my position. At home I’m below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order, but publicly I’m the manager of the England men’s football team. I have a responsibility to the community at large to use my voice, and the players too.
“It is their duty to continue to interact with the public on issues such as equality, inclusiveness and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put the debates on the table, raise awareness and educate. ”