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England's win marred by racism - 15/10/2002

 Leagues & Cups:
   European Championship Qualifiers
   Football Association

I thought we dug in and got a good win in Slovakia, but the achievement was soured by the constant racist chanting and UEFA will have to act. No player should be asked to perform in an environment such as that seen on Saturday. So much work has been done in this country to combat racism and I genuinely feel that we’ve made a positive impression. However we’ve seen ugly incidents on numerous occasions this season – Champions League, UEFA Cup and now on the international stage. We knock our own game an awful lot and I think people should realise that although we haven’t perfected the running of the game, we’ve certainly made god progress. It would be rewarding for the international bodies to look at the UK and take up our initiatives in other countries. Racism is based on ignorance, and ignorance can be alleviated through education. It’s a challenge that can be overcome, and we’ve got a blueprint that other countries should, and have to adopt.

I was also disappointed to see the quality of the pitch. In this day and age the playing surfaces for international games should be A1. I can’t see why a representative of FIFA or UEFA can’t visit the ground in the week preceding games to check that the pitch is in order. There are regulations regarding the size of the pitch, so what aren’t there any about the length of the grass? If the Slovakian FA had intended their team to gain an advantage over England – then this is gamesmanship and it shouldn’t be allowed.

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