Curle 'would not walk off' if subjected to racist abuse after England game is halted twice

Cobblers manager and former international player Keith Curle says he would 'not want to walk off' if subjected to racist abuse after England's Euro 2020 qualify in Bulgaria on Monday evening had to be stopped on two different occasions.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 7:01 pm
England captain Harry Kane speaks to the referee during one of the stoppages in Tuesday's game with Bulgaria. Picture: Getty.

The build-up to the game in Sofia had been dominated by concerns of potential incidents of racism after Bulgaria were sanctioned for such behaviour during qualifiers against Kosovo and Czech Republic in June.

Despite warnings though, Tuesday's game was twice halted due to Nazi salutes and monkey chanting, first in the 28th minute and then again shortly before half-time.

The final stage of UEFA's three-step protocal would have led to the game being abandoned, but England's players made a united decision to continue, even when there were further incidents in the second-half.

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Keith Curle grabs Henrik Anderson's shirt while playing for England in 1992

Some felt England should have walked off to make a stand, however Curle, who is just one of four BAME managers currently working in the EFL, alongside Darren Moore, Sabri Lamouchi and Dino Maamria, believes that is not the way to go.

"In that situation you'd have to take advice from the football club and from the authorities but, as an individual, I wouldn't walk off," he said. "Because that, in my mind, is them winning.

"However, I understand you'd take advice from the authorities or from the club or the federation you're representing at that time, but personally I would not want to walk away from it."

Curle, who won three England caps under Graham Taylor in the 1990s, missed last night's game as he was watching Nottingham Forest U23s face Sheffield United in the Professional Development League in Chesterfield.

He has since caught up with the developments in Sofia though, adding: "I didn't actually see it myself because I was at the Nottingham Forest game but I've heard all about it and I've seen clips.

"What can you do about idiots? Football has got to be used as a vehicle to fight racism because it's a very popular, worldwide sport and the message is getting out there through football.

"Ultimately, it's down to the idiots themselves and they need to be identified and they need to be dealt with."