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England thrash Montenegro, qualify for Euro 2020

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The future has arguably never been brighter for the England National Team.

The Three Lions absolutely mauled it’s opposition, Montenegro, 7-0, on Thursday evening at Wembley Stadium. With the win, England officially qualified for Euro 2020 next summer, though that outcome never seemed in doubt, even from the start of qualifying matches in March.

England captain Harry Kane finished with a hat-trick, but it was Kane’s teammates that provided the bright spots for manager Gareth Southgate on a night where he played a very youthful side.

22-year-old Ben Chilwell finished with three assists, 22-year-old Tammy Abraham scores his first England goal, and 20-year-old midfielder Mason Mount started and looked very strong as an attacking midfielder. 18-year-old Jadon Sancho was bright too and 21-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has clearly locked down the right back spot over Kieran Trippier.

Of course, the opposition quality of Montenegro, or other group stage opponents – Kosovo, Bulgaria – isn’t great. But England isn’t just beating the teams it’s supposed to beat these days, it’s absolutely pummeling them.

Playing in a fast, high-tempo style with links to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, England has scored an incredible 33 goals in qualifying through seven games. The Three Lions have scored five goals or more on five occasions, and the one win they had under five goals? A 4-0 win over Bulgaria at home.

Its a long, long time in soccer terms between now and June 12, the start of Euro 2020. Plenty can go wrong between now and then, (injuries, poor form, end of season exhaustion) and Southgate will have a very difficult job on his hands settling on a final squad of 23-players.

But if this qualifying tournament has shown us anything, it’s that England has a set style of play, it will play it at home and on the road, and against any other team it faces. And that alone is reason for excitement as England fans wait with baited breath for the start of the next Euros, where England will surely get home games at Wembley.

Montenegro fire Serbian coach for missing Kosovo match

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Montenegro have fired their Serbian coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic after he didn’t take charge of their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying game against Kosovo on Friday.

Tumbakovic and two of his Serbian born players who play for Montenegro, Filip Stojkovic and Mirko Ivanic, pulled out of the game under pressure from Serbia who do not recognize Kosovo as a nation.

Political pressure from Serbia

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and although most of the EU and the United States reocgnize it as an independent nation, several countries around the world do not. FIFA recognized Kosovo as a nation three years ago and it has taken part in officials games ever since.

In a statement released by the Montenegrin FA, they revealed that Tumbakovic, who has been in charge since 2016, has been fired.

“The executive board made a unanimous decision to relieve Tumbakovic of his duties after he decided not to be in charge of the national team for the match. Apart from being an unpleasant surprise, Tumbakovic’s move also constitutes a breach of his professional duties stipulated by his contract.”

Spurs defender Danny Rose slams lack of action on racism

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Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose launched a scathing attack on the executives and authorities in world soccer, believing that racism should have been booted from the game by now and saying those in power have done far too little to prevent the incidents that dot the landscape today.

Rose was the victim of racist chants last week during a game in Montenegro while on international duty with England, and he says the punishments are far too weak.

“A country can only get fined a little bit of money for being racist, it’s a bit of a farce isn’t it?” Rose said. “I’ve had enough.”

The abuse has become so bad that Rose is looking forward to his retirement, excited for the day he can fade back into anonymity and not be subject to the vile taunts. “I think I’ve got five or six more years left in football, and I just can’t wait to see the back of it.”

“Seeing how things are done in the game at the minute, you just have to get on with it. There is so much politics in football. I can’t wait to see the back of it.”

Despite prevalent incidents all over the world, players subject to racist abuse – and their teammates and coaches – are still forced to plead with authorities both during and after matches for something to be done. Often, those involved are forced to insist the incidents actually took place, with many denying they happened. Montenegro head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic claimed after the match that he did not “hear or notice” any racist abuse, which forced both Rose and England boss Gareth Southgate to retort by saying, “there’s no doubt in my mind it happened.”

It also leaves coaches like Southgate in a difficult position, feeling the need to take a stand but also not wanting to potentially harm the team. “Gareth Southgate was a bit upset after the game because it was the first time he’d been involved in something like that,” Rose said. “He didn’t know what the right course of action was. He said he was fully behind me if I wanted to walk off. I appreciate that, but I just wanted to get the three points and get out of there as quickly as possible.”

Rose wasn’t done calling out the authorities who failed to prevent such a situation. “Obviously it is sad that I had to prepare for that, but when countries only get fined what I probably spend on a night out in London then what do you expect?”

UEFA charged Montenegro for the abuse during the England match, and a disciplinary hearing will take place on May 16.

Prime minister May joins England players in calling for strong punishment

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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday urged soccer authorities to take strong action against Montenegro after England players faced a torrent of racial abuse during a European Championship qualifying match.

UEFA charged the Montenegro Football Association over its fans’ racist behavior in Podgorica on Monday night after England players Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Rose complained about being targeted with monkey chants during the team’s 5-1 victory.

UEFA’s anti-discrimination group had sent a monitor to the game because there was judged to be a “high risk” of racism and their evidence will now feed into a disciplinary case that will be heard on May 16 by European soccer’s governing body.

The treatment of England players was debated in the House of Commons between discussions about the Brexit deadlock and there was an intervention from May’s Downing Street office.

“The abuse England players were subjected to last night was disgusting and completely unacceptable,” said James Slack, the prime minister’s spokesman. “It is right that UEFA are now investigating. We urge them to do this quickly and to take strong and swift action.”

In a sign of the extent of the racism problem in European soccer, UEFA announced a separate investigation on Tuesday into abuse aimed at Hudson-Odoi while playing for Chelsea. UEFA said it appointed an inspector to assess a complaint by Chelsea that the 18-year-old winger was targeted with racist insults by Dynamo Kiev fans during the London club’s 5-0 win in Ukraine in the Europa League.

“It is a disaster,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said of racism in European football. “I cannot believe these people still exist.”

In the Montenegro incident, the Fare network which monitors discrimination at games in Europe will provide evidence which could lead to a partial or full stadium closure for the team’s next Euro 2020 qualifier in June against Kosovo.

“We had an observer present who picked up evidence of racial abuse,” Fare said in a statement. “Our monitoring team have been compiling the evidence we have before presenting it to UEFA.

We commend the reaction of the England players involved, no human being should have to face abuse and vilification for their race or identity, something that many Montenegrins will understand from the divisive and bloody recent history of the Balkans.”

In one unsavory incident, England winger Raheem Sterling cupped his ears after scoring England’s fifth goal and Montenegro fans responded with jeers before an object — reportedly a lighter — was thrown onto the field. It was picked up by Hudson-Odoi.

“All of us know what skin color we are,” Sterling said after the game. “It’s not like you are telling us anything new.”

Hudson-Odoi, in another post-match interview, mimicked the monkey chants he and Rose heard.

“We hope that UEFA will act decisively, the sanctions that could be applied for an offense of this kind range from a partial stadium closure to full stadium closure,” Fare said in a statement. “These sanctions are being applied regularly for offenses in UEFA competitions, often against resistance from supporter groups and football stakeholders.

“The challenge of tackling racism and other forms of discrimination in European football however remains an ongoing issue. The societal change and education that is the ultimate solution is slow to take place. Even in the countries of Western Europe where there has been investment and focus on these issues, discrimination remains a stain on football.”

The Football Association of Montenegro said it was only “alleged” there was “racist behavior of few spectators” but committed to identifying anyone deemed responsible and banning them from all matches in the country.

“At the matches played by our respective national teams until now, we have not had any incidents related to religious, gender or racial discrimination and we are fully convinced that there will not be any such incidents in the future,” the federation said. “In a multicultural and multiethnic society as Montenegro is, there is not any space for such conduct, which was the feeling most intensively experienced by our guests from England during the previous two official matches they played in Podgorica.”

The English Football Association said much work is required to eradicate racism across the game.

“The issues we saw last night are not isolated to any specific country, and despite progress English football still has its own incidents of discrimination,” the FA said.

“Our experience is that by combining both sanctions and education, whilst working alongside campaigners such as Kick It Out, real progress can be made.”

UEFA charge Montenegro over racism in England game

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LONDON (AP) European soccer’s governing body charged Montenegro over the racist abuse of England players by its fans during a European Championship qualifier.

England players Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Rose reported hearing monkey chants during their team’s 5-1 victory in Podgorica which was attended by UEFA’s anti-discrimination monitors on Monday because there was judged to be a “high risk” of racism.

UEFA announced the disciplinary case against Montenegro’s soccer association on Tuesday and said the case would be heard on May 16 by its disciplinary body. Montenegro was also charged over crowd disturbances, the setting off of fireworks, objects being thrown, and stairways being blocked.

Evidence from the Fare network will feed into the case which could lead to a partial or full stadium closure for the team’s next Euro 2020 qualifier in June against Kosovo.

“We had an observer present who picked up evidence of racial abuse,” Fare said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our monitoring team have been compiling the evidence we have before presenting it to UEFA.

“We commend the reaction of the England players involved, no human being should have to face abuse and vilification for their race or identity, something that many Montenegrins will understand from the divisive and bloody recent history of the Balkans.”

In one unsavory incident, England winger Raheem Sterling cupped his ears after scoring England’s fifth goal and Montenegro fans responded with jeers before an object – reportedly a lighter – was thrown onto the field. It was picked up by Hudson-Odoi.

Montenegro coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic said he did not hear any of the racism but Hudson-Odoi, in a post-match interview, mimicked the monkey chants he and Rose heard.

“We hope that UEFA will act decisively, the sanctions that could be applied for an offense of this kind range from a partial stadium closure to full stadium closure,” Fare said in a statement. “These sanctions are being applied regularly for offenses in UEFA competitions, often against resistance from supporter groups and football stakeholders.

“The challenge of tackling racism and other forms of discrimination in European football however remains an ongoing issue. The societal change and education that is the ultimate solution is slow to take place. Even in the countries of Western Europe where there has been investment and focus on these issues, discrimination remains a stain on football.”

UEFA officials are due in London next weekend for a conference promoting the governing body’s `Equal Game’ initiative.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports