Playing in closed stadiums an ’embarrassment’, says England manager Gareth Southgate

England coach Gareth Southgate said it was an “embarrassment” for the national team to play behind closed doors and called for better behavior on the pitch after a series of forays that marred the end of the domestic season.

England have been ordered to play their next two UEFA Champions League matches at home without spectators following the turmoil during last year’s Euro 2020 final.

Southgate host Italy in the Nations League on June 11, in the rematch of that final, behind closed doors. The ban on fans attending the second match has been suspended for a two-year probationary period.

“We are yellow carded and now have the embarrassment of playing behind closed doors at home,” Southgate told reporters.

“We still want to host the events. We have a women’s euro here this summer which should be a great experience for everyone… We are talking about something that could cost us the opportunity to do this kind of thing…”

Several pitch invasions have occurred in English football over the past few weeks, with Aston Villa’s Robin Olsen, Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp and Crystal Palace’s Patrick Vieira involved in accidents on the pitch with fans.

“When you’re in our environment, we have to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Southgate said. It is a broader problem, a reflection of where we are as a country.

“We don’t want to go back to the fences (in the stadiums) and the kind of environment that was created. At different times in my life, football has become a way for people who want to fight and want to do anything.

“We don’t want to go back there.”

England opened their Group 3 Nations League campaign against Hungary on 4 June in Budapest, a match that will also be played without fans due to events during Hungary’s Euro 2020 matches.

Then England will have a flight to face Germany three days later.

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