Gareth Southgate claims that playing England behind closed doors after their ban is “embarrassing”

Gareth Southgate claims that playing England behind closed doors after their ban is "embarrassing"

Gareth Southgate believes England’s Nations League home match against Italy next month will be “an embarrassment.”

It happened following a series of events at the Euro 2020 final between the two countries in July at Wembley Stadium.

After the Football Association was slammed with sanctions following crowd disturbance, the game at Molineux on June 11 will be played without fans in attendance.

The FA was fined £84,560 for the match’s “lack of order and discipline.”

Many sat in the area reserved for players’ relatives, while England defender Harry Maguire later said his father Alan suffered two suspected broken ribs before the game.

Hundreds of ticketless fans got into Wembley and fought with stewards after areas around the stadium became packed hours before the evening kick-off.

Italy won the final 3-2 on penalties to become European champions after it had finished 1-1 after extra time.

Asked if England got off leniently with a two-game ban on supporters, with one match suspended for 24 months, Southgate replied: “Well, we’re on a yellow card aren’t we?

“So we are where we are. We’ve got the embarrassment now of playing behind closed doors at home. “Normally when you watch those things having happened abroad we’re all grandstanding about how it’s someone else’s problem and how this country should be dealt with – and now it’s us. That’s not a good optic for our country.”

England play four Nations League fixtures in June, with trips to Hungary and Germany followed by the visit of Italy and the return match against the Hungarians on 14 June. The opening game at the Puskas Arena will also take place in front of an empty stadium on 4 June after the Hungarian FA was punished following racist incidents in England’s last trip to Budapest.

The matches come on the back of a domestic season which ended with a spate of high-profile pitch invasions across the country. Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp was struck by a fan in their Championship play-off tie at Nottingham Forest, while Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation with a supporter in his side’s loss at Everton, and Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was assaulted on Sunday as Manchester City followers flocked on to the pitch to celebrate their Premier League title win.

“We all recognise that, but it’s a wider problem. It’s behaviour and a reflection on where we are as a country. “It’s a difficult time for people, we’re going to have more difficult times because of the economy and the realities of the situation we’re in.

“There’s clearly a responsibility within football because, when it’s in our environment, we’ve got to do all we can to try to make sure it doesn’t happen,” added the England manager. Southgate called the recent unsavoury incidents “a concern” and urged football to address the problem before it dictates changes to the match-going experience.

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