In Depth

England fans must follow Gareth Southgate and embrace change

FA calls for supporters to show respect and avoid anti-social behaviour when following the national team

The FA is to take action against England fans seen making Nazi salutes during the game against Germany on Wednesday night.

There has been widespread condemnation of the conduct of some England supporters at the match who jeered the German national anthem and sang songs about World War II and the IRA during the game.

Police spotters filmed the away end during the match and are "confident" of identifying those who made Nazi salutes, reports The Times. "Anyone in the supporters' club found to be involved in anti-social behaviour faces being banned from membership and potentially pursued by the UK authorities for a football banning order."

FA chairman Greg Clarke condemned the actions of some supporters as "inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing" and once again urged the fans "to show respect and not to chant songs that could be regarded as insulting to others".

It's a plea that's likely to fall on deaf ears, laments Matt Dickinson of The Times. It was "mortifying" listening to "lairy idiots" goading the Germans, he says.

Dickinson welcomes Clarke's stance but calls for others within the game to back him up and "lead a concerted attempt to change this depressing, enduring culture". 

"If this is to be the age of reason under the eminently reasonable Southgate – and, yes, the media must play its part – then travelling without a band of obnoxious fools must be near the top of the wish-list."

But as the manager modernises the team "he cannot escape this throwback noise", says Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph

"Nobody wants that kind of support, but few dare say it... Much of it stems from provincial England, from the smaller towns and outposts of the game, where exposure to European club football is more limited, or non-existent. Premier League spectators appear to be in the minority when England go abroad. So away games still serve as an outlet for a particular expression of 'Englishness', decades old."

But there is room for optimism on the pitch and in the stands, says Barney Ronay of The Guardian. "England as a football nation are tentative travellers but change is always possible on both fronts. On the pitch [the game against Germany] was a cautiously hopeful affair. Off it the songs need to stop or evolve." 

Wembley plans terror tribute - how will England fans react?

England's football team will pay tribute to the victims of this week's terror attack in London before their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley on Sunday.

FA chairman Greg Clarke said: "Our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by this terrible incident. We will be recognising the bravery of the security services and all those involved at the match on Sunday."

However, the move comes as the behaviour of England fans returns to the spotlight after Wednesday night's friendly against Germany, when they attracted widespread criticism for booing the German national anthem and performing the infamous "Ten German bombers" chant about World War II.

"The shameful chant has been used for a number of years by England fans in a bid to taunt their German rivals, and yesterday's scenes attracted plenty of criticism on social media," says Jack de Menezes of The Independent.

Daniel Storey of Football 365 bemoans the "nationalistic aggression" of the fans, which he says appears to be on the rise.

"No other support spends the majority of its matches aiming insults at opposing fans rather than celebrating their own players," he writes. "On yesterday of all days, was it not worth at least trying to be pleasant?"

It also jarred with events on the pitch, especially as England boss Gareth Southgate, who urged fans to support the team "in the right way", wants the Three Lions to move on from the past.

However, Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph says "the disparity between Southgate trying to move the whole operation forward and England's supporters singing 'have you ever seen the Germans win a war' was painful to behold".

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