“Thank you, Mr Speaker. Like Members of the House, I was appalled by the disgusting racist abuse encountered by the England football team in Bulgaria last night. Whether they are a player, a manager or a supporter, no participant in sport should have to tolerate discrimination of any kind. I would like to pay tribute to the leadership shown by Gareth Southgate and his coaching team, as well as to our players for how they conducted themselves in appalling circumstances. I have spoken to the Football Association to express my support.
We have made progress in this country to combat discrimination in our domestic game and make our stadia more welcoming places to be. The Government are supporting a number of anti-racism initiatives, including the Premier League’s “No Room for Racism” campaign and the “Show Racism the Red Card” and “Kick It Out” campaigns, all of which have achieved a great deal in this area. In February this year, my department held a summit on discrimination with a range of bodies acting within football but we cannot be complacent and must remain a leading voice on this issue internationally. International competitions should bring cultures and countries together and, while it was a step in the right direction to see the protocol engaged last night, it is clear that much more needs to be done to stamp racism out of the game”.