Ashley Young: You can’t tell how you will react to racist abuse

Ashley Young admits he cannot predict how he would react to racist abuse at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

There are fears about the potential for incidents of racism to overshadow the tournament, given the number of reports of racist abuse in Russian football.

Earlier this month, the Russian Football Union was fined 30,000 Swiss francs by world governing body Fifa following discriminatory chants from fans during the friendly against France in St Petersburg on March 27.

It was alleged France players were subjected to monkey chants during the match.

When England’s Young was asked about concerns over racist abuse, he said: “Hopefully Fifa, if anything is to come about, they will be able to deal with it.

“Whether it’s going to happen, whether you are on the pitch, I’m not sure how you react to it.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about it and we have talked about it, in the squad, in what to do and what not to do.”

Just over a week ago, England boss Gareth Southgate revealed part of his planning for the tournament would include preparing his players for any racist incidents they may face.

Young confirmed he had family and friends going out to Russia, and said: “It hasn’t put them off. It’s a World Cup, my first one – of course family and friends want to go to it.”

Young, who has been capped 33 times and scored seven goals for England, has made Southgate’s 23-man squad having returned to the Three Lions fold last November, when he made his first international appearance in over four years.

As well as the Manchester United winger-turned-full-back, the group also contains Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli, whom Young had a notable on-pitch exchange with at Old Trafford in October.

Manchester Evening News reported at the time that Alli told the 32-year-old to “retire with a zimmer frame”, with Young responding: “Let me know when you win the Prem.”

Asked about that ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Nigeria, Young said: “We had a laugh and a joke about it, before, in the previous squad.”

He added of Alli: “A lot of people say he has to take it out of his game, but I think he’s one of those players that plays on the edge. He winds people up. That’s just him. “He’s a fantastic talent and, for me, to have him in the squad is unbelievable. Everyone in the squad is a winner and he is definitely one of them.”

Young also stressed his confidence in how England will handle being the targets of winding up by the opposition.

He said: “It’s just one of those where you have to keep your head.

“We want to keep 11 players on the pitch at all times. We have that togetherness and I think there’s enough experience throughout this squad that, if someone is being wound up, to pull them on the pitch and tell them to calm down or have a word with the referee.”

Young added: “A lot of people keep saying I’m an aggressive person, especially when I go across those white lines. I think it’s just the hunger, desire, and passion I’ve got for the game.

“I’ve always been a born winner. I’m nearly 33, but there are still things I want to win and there is no bigger one than the World Cup.

“You go into a tournament wanting to win it and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing.”

Meanwhile, the FA has underlined its support for Raheem Sterling after the England forward’s gun tattoo came under scrutiny.

The body art was highlighted on the front page of yesterday’s edition of The Sun, with the 23-year-old defending it through a post on Instagram.

An FA spokesperson said yesterday: “We all support Raheem Sterling and acknowledge the honest and heartfelt account he gave via Instagram last night.

“He and the rest of the squad are focused solely on preparing for the forthcoming World Cup.”

The Manchester City player had his say on the report shortly after its publication via an Instagram Stories post.

Sterling wrote: “When I was 2 my father died from being gunned down to death I made a promise to myself I would never touch a gun in my life time, I shoot with my right foot so it has a deeper meaning N still unfinished.”



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