Sheffield United: Chris Wilder wants governments to take action against "terrible" racist yobs

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has called upon governments to step-in and help eradicate the scourge of racism from football.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 9:28 pm
Match referee Ivan Bebek speaks to England manager Gareth Southgate (left) and Harry Kane (centre right)

The 52-year-old was speaking after one of his players - Dean Henderson - found himself at the centre of a sporting and sociological storm following Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria, when some of England's players were abused by sections of the home support.

Admitting he will speak with Henderson about his experiences when he reports back for training ahead of next week's Premier League game against Arsenal, Wilder praised the way Gareth Southgate and his squad handled a scenario which twice saw the match suspended and has since prompted the resignation of the Bulgarian Football Union's president.

But he also urged politicians and Europe's governing body to do more to help tackle the problem, saying: "It was a terrible experience for everybody connected with the set-up. I've got to say, I thought the players handled it outstandingly well, led by Gareth.

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"I wasn't surprised by that, because he's not just tactically excellent but his man-management skills are first class and his feel of the situation was brilliant.

"It was a terrible experience, I believe they made the right decision to stay on the pitch and let the football do the talking. But something has got to happen, from UEFA and also a government point of view. It has to be stamped out and there has to be zero tolerance of this type of behaviour."

Although this morning's media briefing was ostensibly designed to discuss the visit of Unai Emery's side, it was inevitable Wilder would be asked for his comments on an issue which has dominated the news agenda since England's 6-0 victory. Police in Bulgaria have now made six arrests, with nine more expected to follow, after the likes of Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were targeted. Footage has also emerged of fans giving Nazi salutes, which prompted Bulgaria's captain Ivelin Popov to remonstrate with some of his own team's followers during the half-time interval. Henderson, making his first appearance in a senior international squad, watched the whole sorry drama unfold from the bench after being summoned by Southgate before the trip to the Czech Republic three days earlier.

Although some observers insist England should have taken a stronger stand by walking off the pitch, Wilder believes they were right to finish the fixture; despite going on to suggest they would have also received his backing had they chosen to abandon the game.

England goalkeepers Nick Pope and Dean Henderson (right) warm up prior to the match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

"They, the players, are human beings and they have to make the right decision for themselves individually," Wilder said. "They will have known something was going to kick-off and they were always going to have something in place. I believe they did the right thing, by staying on, but it creates opinions and debates. I believe they handled it magnificently."

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Ian Walton/PA Wire.