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Southgate blames ills of British society for football violence

London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate joined the condemnation of a worrying trend of violent incidents inside British football grounds, but believes deeper-rooted societal problems are the cause.

A Birmingham fan who punched Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish after invading the pitch on Sunday has been jailed for 14 weeks, while an Arsenal fan also confronted Manchester United’s Chris Smalling the same day.

A spate of unsavoury incidents have also ocurred in Scotland in recent weeks, most recently when a Hibernian fan pushed Rangers captain James Tavernier on Friday.

“It’s not something I’m shocked by because if you go down many high streets at the weekend, unless you’re oblivious to what goes on in our country, there are, unfortunately, scenes of inappropriate and anti-social behaviour,” said Southgate on Wednesday.

“So to see that inside a football ground is disappointing for us as a sport, but it’s a societal problem as much as it’s a football problem.

“I think everybody would want to work together to make sure the right security measures are in place but, frankly, we should be living in an era where we don’t need stewards.”

At a time of severe political uncertainty for the United Kingdom, Southgate’s side were a beacon of hope with their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer.

Another semi-final awaits in the inaugural Nations League for the Three Lions in June and Southgate is hoping to lighten the mood once more this summer.

“We can’t keep relying on the royal family to produce babies and have weddings, so there’s got to be other methods of doing that and if we can provide hope and optimism through our performances, then that’s part of our responsibility as a team,” he added.

“We always want to play in a way that excites people, we want a team that the public are proud to watch and we hope to play our part.

“Whether we can resolve all the issues in our country is a more difficult task.”

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