• Euro 2012

Gerrard won't take England off the pitch

ESPN staff
June 10, 2012

England skipper Steven Gerrard insisted he will not take his players off the pitch if they are racially abused during Monday's match against France.

Gerrard is set to lead his team into their opening Euro 2012 clash against a backdrop of concerns regarding racial abuse at the tournament.

The Netherlands camp have already complained of an incident during one of their open training sessions, while Mario Balotelli has threatened to walk off the pitch if he becomes a target of abuse.

UEFA has warned all players that they will be booked if they take matters into their own hands by leaving the field of play. And Gerrard says that, while he will register a complaint to the referee, he will not lead a mass exodus from the pitch.

"I wouldn't encourage them to walk off the pitch, but if they come to me with a complaint of being racially abused I'll address it with the referee and it's his responsibility to take it to UEFA," Gerrard explained at Sunday's press conference.

"I'm in no place to make a decision like that but I'll certainly support my team-mates in that situation."

England have a fully fit squad to choose from for Monday's match, although they are missing Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, John Ruddy and Gary Cahill, all of whom had to withdraw before the tournament. Gerrard admits those players will be missed.

"Maybe. But what we've got to do as players is share the responsibility around the group. Any team is going to miss the likes of Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry - we also lost John Ruddy.

"But you have to cope. Other squads are suffering similar things, so you have to get on with it and we're really confident we can do well in this competition.

"The squad's really happy, we've had a couple of hours' rest and we'll have our final session Sunday afternoon. We'll be ready."

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