The Duke of Cambridge has offered his support to England’s players in the event that they suffer racist abuse during the World Cup in Russia.
There are widespread concerns surrounding racism on the eve of tournament, with the Russian Football Union fined £22,000 by FIFA for racist chanting in a
March friendly against France in St Petersburg.
England boss Gareth Southgate says protocols are in place if anything flares up during matches, while defender Danny Rose has told his family not to travel to Russia to cheer him on.
Meeting the squad on Thursday ahead of their friendly with Costa Rica, the duke said he hoped there would be no racist incidents in Russia but intimated that he would use his position as FA president to take action.
In conversation with the players, he said: “Hopefully there is no racist stuff. Hopefully we won’t see any of it.” He then added: “I will come down on it like a tonne of bricks.”
William, who will not attend the World Cup, met manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane before speaking to the England players at West Riding County Football Association in Leeds.
He asked Kane if the rivalry between players from different clubs was put aside when they gathered together on England duty.
“There’s been talk recently about a divide but here everyone just cracks on,” Kane said. “We all get on so well, everyone mixes and the lads are just playing (video game) Fortnite.”
Speaking to Southgate, the duke acknowledged the pressure and expectation which always accompanies England teams in international competition, but added: “I hope because there are so many young players everyone has realistic expectations.
“I will be watching on TV and shouting at my TV if someone does a bad tackle. It’s good because I am the president of the FA I have to behave myself.”
William also presented Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold with the shirt he will wear when making his senior England debut against Costa Rica.