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Hodgson backs officials on racism

02 Jun 2012 06:47:06

Hodgson backs officials on racism

Roy Hodgson has confirmed England would stand by any referee who decides to take teams off at Euro 2012 due to an outbreak of racial abuse.

The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already opted not to watch the Three Lions in Ukraine this summer for fear of being targeted by racist groups.

"My stance is very simple: it's a matter for referees and UEFA," Hodgson said. "You're talking about something that is abhorrent to anybody, not just in football, but in every walk of life. It's a topical question and one that I'm sure has been heavily debated in UEFA for the last four years."

The England boss added: "We've qualified for a football tournament and we want to play to the best of our ability.

"This very important problem has got to be taken care of outside the footballing family. If UEFA decide that this is what the referee will do (walk off), we will be the first people to side along with that. But we, as football people, shouldn't be taking the initiative. I want UEFA and referees to control the issue."

Former England defender Sol Campbell has claimed black supporters risk "coming home in a coffin" after viewing some horrendous footage taken by undercover TV reporters.

Whilst Ukraine officials have condemned the reports as scare stories, it only took the presence of Auschwitz survivor Zigi Shipper at the England team hotel in Watford to provide a powerful reminder of how evil racism can be.

England's players presented Shipper with his own replica shirt after his moving presentation, which was graphic in its detail.

"I told them about babies being shot, about babies being put in gas chambers," he said.

"The players really listened. You could have heard a pin drop. It was very powerful. I told the players: 'You are role models, people listen to you, you must spread the message about the Holocaust'. Some people don't know about the Holocaust. Racism is terrible."


PA

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