PODGORICA • European football's governing body Uefa yesterday charged Montenegro over racist behaviour by their fans towards England players during their Euro 2020 qualifier.
Gareth Southgate's men were irrepressible as they ran out 5-1 winners. However, the rout was soured by the prolonged racist abuse, leading to calls for stadium bans.
Defender Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants while forward Raheem Sterling, who called for Montenegro supporters to be banned from matches, was also targeted on Monday night.
Calling the abuse as "not acceptable", England manager Southgate told TV channel ITV Sport: "I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game. There's no doubt in my mind that happened."
And Uefa has taken action by starting disciplinary proceedings, with the case set to be heard on May 16. Montenegro could face a partial or full stadium closure for their next qualifying match.
But Southgate, whose side ran riot on the night through Michael Keane, Ross Barkley's brace and a penalty from Harry Kane before Sterling added gloss to the scoreline, felt "sanctions are worthless if there is nothing alongside that to help educate people".
The 48-year-old added: "There's an innocence about young people that is only influenced by older people. We have to make sure the education is right for everybody, in our country, the same."
He also said he had yet to talk to Sterling, who responded to the taunts by cupping his hands to his ears towards a section of Montenegro fans when he scored late on.
The Manchester City player told Sky Sports after the Group A game: "I didn't hear (the chants) personally, but Danny made it clear and (made me) aware that's what they were doing, so I just wanted to show them they were going to need more than that to upset and stop us.
"It's a shame to see this keep going on. It's now time for the people in charge to put a stamp on it. You can fine someone, but what's that going to do? You've got to punish the fans who can't come to the games.
A SERIOUS PROBLEM
You can fine someone, but what's that going to do? You've got to make it a bit harder. You've got to punish the whole fans who can't come to the games... because if their team can't play with fans, it's going to be difficult for them.
RAHEEM STERLING, who was targeted by Montenegro fans, urging stronger measures against racist abuse.
"You've got to do something that will really make them think twice because if their team can't play with fans, it's going to be difficult for them."
He later took to social media to revel in the resounding victory, tweeting: "Best way to silence the haters... (and yeah I mean racists)."
Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, who became the second-youngest England player to start a competitive game at the Podgorica City Stadium, also felt the provocative goading was "not right".
Admitting it had marred his career milestone, the 18-year-old told beIN Sports: "You are trying to enjoy the moment but, when you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it's unacceptable.
"I don't think discrimination should be anywhere - we are equal. Me and Rosey heard it, the 'Oooh, Oooh' monkey stuff.
"Hopefully, Uefa will deal with it."
The unsavoury scenes drew swift condemnation from other parties, with football's anti-discrimination group Kick it Out tweeting: "Disgraceful to hear racist chants directed at black England players this evening.
"As we've argued countless times, it's time for Uefa to take strong, decisive action - fines won't do. Extended stadium bans or tournament expulsion are what's needed."
Pundit Ian Wright agreed, claiming that a slap on the wrist would be little deterrence. The former Arsenal striker told ITV: "They (Montenegro) will be fined a pittance, and we'll get the same thing again here the next time or somewhere else. It's not going to stop them."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA, THE GUARDIAN