Robert Page: ex-Sheffield United defender says Wales prepared to walk off the pitch if team faces racist abuse
Wales boss Robert Page says his players are prepared to walk off the pitch in their World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic if they encounter “unacceptable” racial abuse.
The former Sheffield United defender continues to take charge or the Welsh national side on a caretaker basis while Ryan Giggs awaits trial for assault and controlling and coercive behaviour in January.
His side head to Prague just a week after Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was subjected to racial abuse during a Europa League game in the Czech capital.
UEFA has opened an investigation into the events surrounding the Sparta Prague-Rangers tie, which sparked a diplomatic incident between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.
Sparta fans were banned following racist abuse of Monaco’s Aurelius Tchouameni in August, but around 10,000 schoolchildren were permitted to attend the game and Kamara – who was on the receiving end of a racist slur from Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela in March – was targeted with what the Scotland’s players’ union declared as “sickening abuse”.
However, Sparta called for “xenophobic attacks” on the children to stop and the British ambassador to the Czech Republic was summoned to a meeting by the country’s foreign minister.
Asked how Wales, who have five black players in their squad – Ben Cabango, Ethan Ampadu, Tyler Roberts, Brennan Johnson and Sorba Thomas – would react to receiving racist abuse at the Sinobo Stadium on Friday, Sheffield-based Page said there would be “zero tolerance”.
“There’s protocols put in place and every single player in that dressing room will know they’re backed and supported by the right governing bodies,” Page said.
“If action needs to be taken we absolutely will do that as a group. We won’t stand for it and there will be zero tolerance for any racial abuse.
“We will take the knee because that’s what we think is the right message to continue to show.
“How the crowd react, we can’t influence that. But what we will do is conduct ourselves in the right and proper manner. We know as a group what’s acceptable and what’s not.”
Wales are level on points with the second-placed Czech Republic with a game in hand.
The two nations are locked in a battle for second spot and the World Cup play-off place that comes with it.