Southgate tells fans to go easy on Declan Rice after IRA post – and not to sing provocative songs

Southgate tells fans to go easy on Declan Rice after IRA post – and not to sing provocative songs

March 21, 2019

DECLAN RICE apologised for his pro-IRA tweet – and England boss Gareth Southgate urged England fans to go easy on him.

The West Ham midfielder, who has switched allegiance from Ireland to England, put the messages on Instagram when he was 16.

Rice, now 20, wrote to an Irish under-17s: “ UP THE RA – Wait til we draw England.”

But ahead of tonight’s Euro2020 qualifier with the Czech Republic, he said: “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 team-mates 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.”

The FA will write to Rice warning him about his comments.

Rice made three senior appearances for Ireland before switching to play for England and is in his first Three Lions squad.

Boss Gareth Southgate said: "I’ll go and just make sure he knows that firstly, that he’s OK and that he’s supported.

"I understand that it’s not a situation that should just be dismissed but equally the context, the period of time that’s passed and his age at the time is all relevant in how we should deal with it.

“That is the perils of social media for any of us with kids. You just don’t know what that interaction might be.

"When they’re socialising with friends, you’re a bit braver in some of your comments or a bit less thoughtful in some of your comments, so I think for all young people that is a danger.

"There are so many positive things about social media, but, as we know, there are lots of negatives.

“I think he’s explained how he views the world today and it’s difficult to know without speaking to him what the context of that was.

People are still maturing at that age

"It would be easy to comment on something without having all of the background and context of it.

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

"And outside of that, the obvious point is that this was when he was 15 or 16 when he was engaged in a social conversation with friends.

"I think any of us at that age, in those sorts of situations have probably said things, discussed things, written things, that might not look the way that’d we’d want them to several years later, so I don’t think he can say or do any more than he’s said at this point in time.

“I think people understand; most people will have children of those sorts of ages and people are still maturing at that age.

"You’re in conversations with friends that, you can get giddy and you can say things that maybe you don’t even know enough about or you don’t understand the context.

"So I think our fans and our public will recognise that fact.”

Rice is set to be on the bench tonight.

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