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England to prep players for eventual racism in Russia

© AFP/File | France midfielder Paul Pogba is one of several black players to have been targeted with racist chants by Russian football supporters

LONDON (AFP) - 

England are to receive advice on how to deal with potential racist incidents they may encounter at the upcoming World Cup in Russia, according to manager Gareth Southgate.

There are concerns that racism has become endemic within Russian football and earlier this month the country's football association was fined 30,000 Swiss francs (25,000 euros) by global governing body FIFA following racist chants by supporters during a friendly international against France in March.

France's Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele were the target of monkey chants during their side's 3-1 win over Russia in Saint Petersburg.

"We work with our players on how we will support each other if anything like that was to happen," said Southgate. "There would be some official protocol to follow if it did happen but we really hope it is a situation that doesn't emerge, and that it's a festival of football we are talking about on the pitch and not talking about things off the field."

Southgate, a former England international, added: "The most important thing is that internally we are able to support our players if something does happen and they understand how their team-mates and our staff are going to go about that.

"There are some sessions we will do with them about that, and then there is the official protocol to be followed. As a federation I think we would be strong in pushing for the right solutions within that.

"So we have everything in place, but most importantly is that internally the players feel they have that level of support."

England open their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

Racism has plagued Russian football since clubs began purchasing foreign players after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) anti-discrimination network reported 89 racist and far-right incidents at Russian games in the 2016-2017 season.

The number was about the same as that recorded in the preceding three seasons -- an indication that the Russian Football Union's attempts to eradicate the problem have yet to succeed.

© 2018 AFP