England boss responds to Declan Rice controversy


Gareth Southgate has defended Declan Rice against criticism after the discovery of pro-IRA tweets.

Posts on social media from the midfielder made in 2015 that included the phrase “Up the RA” resurfaced online earlier today, just hours before the Irishman-turned-Englishman could make his debut for England.

The West Ham United midfielder switched his allegiance to England in February after making three friendly appearances for the Republic of Ireland, and the 20-year-old could be handed his first international start for the Three Lions in Friday’s European Championships qualifier against Czech Republic.

Rice issued an apology shortly after the online messages were discovered, stating:

“I am aware that a poorly expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media.

“I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my teammates at the time could be negatively interpreted. While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused.”

When questioned about Rice’s choice of words as a youngster, Southgate pointed out that the West Ham academy product would have only been 15 or 16 at the time and that many people will have “discussed things, said things, written things that might not look in the way we would want them several years later”.

“He’s apologised. It’s not representative of what he believes and feels and his views,” Southgate said.

“So I don’t think he can do or say any more than he’s said at this point in time. I think people understand.”

The FA has confirmed that Rice will not face any further punishment, but the sport’s governing body has reminded the 20-year-old of his responsibilities in a written warning.


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When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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