Gareth Southgate: England squad has 'duty' to engage with nation on racial justice

Credit: PA

England's football team has a duty to engage with the public on issues like "inclusivity and racial justice", manager Gareth Southgate has said.

In an impassioned letter to the nation ahead of Euro 2020, Southgate stressed his belief that the players should never “just stick to football”.

"It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate," Southgate wrote in The Players' Tribune on Tuesday.

England's Euro 2020 friendly against Romania on Sunday became the latest in which a portion of fans booed players taking the knee. In response, Southgate said the team was "more determined than ever" to perform the gesture during the upcoming tournament.

In the open letter, Southgate also addressed social media abuse directed at his players.

Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jude Bellingham have all suffered racist abuse online. Southgate wrote: “There are times when my parental instincts kick in. I can’t help it. After all, I’m old enough to be a father to most of my players!

England footballers take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement Credit: Nick Potts/PA

“Why would you tag someone in on a conversation that is abusive? Why would you choose to insult somebody for something as ridiculous as the colour of their skin? Why? Southgate warned that perpetrators of social media abuse were "on the losing side", as society is become more "tolerant" and "understanding".On the possibility of England becoming European champions, Southgate wrote: "My players and I will be judged on winning matches.

"Only one team can win the Euros. We have never done it before and we are desperate to do it for the first time".