Belfast Telegraph

Southgate urges fans to back England the right way

By Simon Peach

Gareth Southgate has urged England fans to support the team in the right way after "unacceptable" incidents marred their last away trip.

The Football Association is attempting to clamp down on boorish behaviour, with lifetime bans from the England Supporters Travel Club dished out for the first time after two individuals were caught making Nazi gestures in March's 1-0 friendly loss in Germany.

There were 27 members suspended in total for their behaviour in Dortmund, with a further six given written warnings while there remains one case pending.

The conduct of spectators will again be under close scrutiny when England face rivals Scotland this weekend, with Southgate urging their fans to behave in the right way in Glasgow.

"I think we've got a fantastic number of supporters coming to the game," the England manager said at Hampden Park.

"Everybody is aware now after what happened in Germany, the FA have taken strong action with people that were involved in incidents there that were unacceptable.

"We want the supporters to get behind us in the best possible way. We're proud to play for our country and represent our country, but they also represent our country and they've got to do that in the right way.

"As always, the vast majority do that all the time but any that have any other ideas, that's not what we want to see. We're very clear on that."

Southgate's comments echoed the Football Supporters' Federation plea for fans to cut out the "tedious, prehistoric chanting".

"English football fans have a great reputation around the world for the numbers in which we travel, the passion we demonstrate in supporting our team, and our ability to party enthusiastically well into the night,'' the organisation said in an editorial in its England fanzine, Free Lions.

"We have made friends in country after country, and when you start to hear the fans of other nations adopting and adapting our songs, you can be sure we've made a lasting impression. We have a lot to be proud of.

"We are at our best though when our songs are imaginative and witty, and particularly when they're related to the football and provide real motivation and encouragement to the team on the pitch.

"And that's why we are firmly of the opinion that we'd be much better off without some of the lame and boring songs about World War Two or the IRA.

"They've got nothing to do with football, and they do nothing to get behind the team; surely the best contribution we can make as fans is to support the eleven on the pitch wearing the shirt, regardless of whether or not we agree with the team selection, the formation or the tactics?"

Meanwhile, Harry Kane has been named as England captain for the World Cup qualifier.

Kane, the Premier League's top goalscorer for the second season running with 29, has scored five goals in 17 caps for England and is desperate to improve on that.

With Wayne Rooney overlooked for the qualifier with Scotland, the onus is on Kane to lead the line.

Southgate revealed the 23-year-old Tottenham striker will captain the Three Lions at Hampden Park, and hopes it can ignite his England career.

He said: "Harry Kane will captain the side tomorrow. Obviously we have shared the leadership around and I think that's been important for us as a team."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph