'Nobody is doing enough' - Paltry UEFA fine for Bulgaria racism shows players should walk off, says Neville

Football’s governing bodies aren’t doing enough to combat racism so players should take matters into their own hands by walking off the pitch, according to Gary Neville.

The former Manchester United and England defender's comments come in the wake of what have been perceived to be insufficient sanctions brought against the Bulgarian FA by UEFA following racist abuse of England’s black players in a Euro 2020 qualifier earlier in October.

Bulgaria have been fined €75,000, with two matches ordered to be played behind closed doors – with one of those suspended. The punishment has attracted widespread criticism from players, fans, pundits and anti-discrimination bodies.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

"It is quite clear that FIFA and UEFA, and you can even argue in this country within the FA, that we have just not got it right at all in terms of the punishments on racism," Neville told Sky Sports News.

"If you started to fine countries millions of pounds then I think you would start to see what would be significant action.

"There needs to be significant pain brought towards anybody and everything that essentially… every act of racism should be punished heavily.

"At the moment £65,000 and a couple of games is not impacting the situation at all."

At the time of the game, there was much discussion as to whether England should have walked off the pitch, an idea which polarised fans and commentators.

With the game’s governing bodies still seemingly reluctant to take firm action against racists, Neville thinks that is now the only option for players who face abuse, and he hopes teams would have the support of fans and other federations if they chose to do so.

"I personally now have got to the situation whereby I would welcome, support, a football team walking off the pitch," Neville added.

England Bulgaria Euro 2020 Qualifying
England Bulgaria Euro 2020 Qualifying

“I would expect if England were punished for that, other big nations and all nations essentially in Europe to support England and withdraw from the competition. That is going to need to happen.

"People will say [to walk off] is dangerous territory but the reality of it is some of the greatest changes that have been stimulated in the history of society have been individuals being brave.

"We have got some really brave young individuals within that England squad who are not going to take it anymore.

"UEFA are not doing enough. Are any of us doing enough? It is happening in our country, it is happening on our soil and are we tough enough on it? The answer is no.

"Banning countries from a tournament - I do not think that is the correct way to go. But I do think large, heavy, really significant fines - millions and millions of pounds and the closing down of stadiums and making them play behind closed doors is the right way to go.

"If it persists from a point of view beyond that then you could start to think about potentially removing teams from a tournament."

What to Read Next