Tyrone Mings: Abuse does not hurt me but I have a duty to be heard in fight against racism

07/11/19 2:00pm

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Tyrone Mings says football can be a `pioneer` in tackling racism in society
Tyrone Mings says football can be a `pioneer` in tackling racism in society

Tyrone Mings says racist abuse does not affect his game - but he is determined to use his voice to fight against discrimination and help protect his fellow players.

The Aston Villa centre-back made an impressive debut for England in their 6-0 European Qualifier victory over Bulgaria last month, but the racist chants from the home fans in Sofia overshadowed the contest.

The match was stopped during the first half by referee Ivan Bebek and a PA announcement warned fans to end the chants or the match could be abandoned - the first stage of FIFA`s three-step protocol for such incidents. Bulgaria were subsequently handed a two-match stadium ban and a £64,650 fine.

However, Mings says, despite the controversy, he was still able to focus on his own performance and make the most of a significant night in his career.

I was so focused on the game and playing well and trying to enjoy the occasion that I don`t think it had a positive or negative effect on my performance, Mings told Sky Sports in his first interview since that night.

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It didn`t really bother me and the way we dealt with it as a squad, as a group, probably brought us closer together. In an ironic sort of way we came away feeling quite positive about how we dealt with it.

Mings
Mings speaks with officials during the clash with Bulgaria

The FA backed us up and we knew going into the game that if anything was going to happen we had the full support of everyone else.

It was very hostile for my family and friends - it really wasn`t nice for them. If they could have chosen one place to go and watch me in my first England game it probably wouldn`t have been there.

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Watch highlights of the match between Bulgaria and England
Watch highlights of the match between Bulgaria and England

[Bulgaria supporters] made no secret of the fact they wanted it to be hostile, the stadium was already closed in large parts because of previous problems, so [Mings` family and friends] probably didn`t get to enjoy it as much, but for me all of that was redundant. I just loved it.

I couldn`t have asked for it to go any better - we had a great result, personally I felt I played well and all the feedback afterwards was positive. Everything that happened off the pitch came secondary to me.

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Speaking after the Bulgaria match, Mings said he was proud of how the players handled the racist abuse they received
Speaking after the Bulgaria match, Mings said he was proud of how the players handled the racist abuse they received

Mings` ability to drown out the noise and prioritise his performance is an admirable trait. But the defender admits he is fully aware not all players are able to shrug of such severe abuse so easily.

As a result, Mings says he feels it is only right he uses the platform he has as a Premier League player and England international to speak up in the battle against racism and discrimination.

I said after the game in Bulgaria I don`t know why it doesn`t affect me, he said. It doesn`t make me any less of a person or make the things they`re saying true.

If your intention is to have a negative impact on my performance or make me feel bad about myself then it`s not going to happen. It`s just a shame you have those thoughts and if you want to air them then hopefully you`ll be dealt with in the right way - but it`s not going to impact me.

But at the same time, if I didn`t speak about it, just because it doesn`t affect me, then I`d be doing a disservice to anyone who doesn`t have the voice or the platform to speak about it.

Whilst I feel like I can rise above it and continue with my game, there are other people who would feel a lot worse if it happened to them so we all have a job to give those people a voice.

Tyrone Mings

Whilst I feel like I can rise above it and continue with my game, there are other people who would feel a lot worse if it happened to them so we all have a job to give those people a voice.

Mings says while racism is an issue for society as a whole - discrimination happens in all walks of life… sport in general just seems to be a place where people air those views - football can lead the way and set an example of how to deal with it.

Mings
Mings says high-profile players have a duty to speak out against racism

In an ideal world - [because] we have a position and situation where we can influence other people - football would stand up and say `not enough is being done`.

We would act as pioneers in wanting to change how racism is dealt with and what people`s perceptions is of other religions, cultures - because discrimination happens everywhere, not just racism.

I think us as footballers and anyone who has a voice in football or sport or higher up in the FA, UEFA, has the opportunity to try to tackle this.

In an ideal world - [because] we have a position and situation where we can influence other people - football would stand up and say `not enough is being done`.

Tyrone Mings

If we`re all pulling in the same direction and trying to work towards a solution it will ultimately end in something more positive than what we have at the moment.

However, Mings admits there is no easy answer or solution to the problem. He backs the steps of the protocol used in Sofia - I think the way the officials dealt with everything on the day was really impressive - but argues Bulgaria`s punishment was not firm enough.

What else can be done? I don`t know, is the answer, said Mings. As players we`re not the ones who should be making those decisions.

Sanctions - of course people are saying they aren`t strong enough. That could be one way around it, but in terms of what the answer is I couldn`t sit here and tell you we should definitely do this and it would eradicate racism.

I think a lot of good work has been done and is continuing to be done but perhaps the sanctions could be stricter.

If you look at historically some of the abuse players had to go through before us you can`t get away from the fact that things have drastically improved and that probably comes with living in a more diverse society.

You`re not ever going to completely eradicate it, all you can do is come down a lot harder on people when you do catch them or hear it.

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source : skysports.com












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