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North East MPs condemn football racist abuse

The Football Association has a "long way to go" to represent England as a country and a society, the Commons has heard.

MPs from all parties condemned the racist abuse aimed at the England team as they played Bulgaria in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia, with calls for sanctions to follow from Uefa.

But several MPs also raised concerns closer to home about racism and a lack of diversity within football, insisting that more still needs to be done in England.

Labour Redcar MP Anna Turley criticised the "vile and horrific abuse" in Bulgaria.

She said: "A lot of discussion has been taking place already about getting our own house in order."

She said the FA had a long way to go to represent England as a country and society.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams replied: "(Ms Turley) is absolutely correct, and can I just say it's not just the players that were victims of the abuse last night - there were FA support staff, cameramen who were of colour who were abused, visibly shaking, so it isn't just the players.

"The best role models, I think, for diversity in football are those magnificent players who took to the pitch last night."

Bulgaria v England
PA Media

Newcastle Central Labour MP Chi Onwurah questioned when action would take place following the latest incident in Bulgaria.

She said: "After the Montenegro match in April, I suggested we take Uefa to the European Court of Human Rights for repeated failure to provide a working environment free from racism and homophobia for football players. I was told we were going to have meetings. Now I'm told we're going to have letters.

"What will it take to get some action?"

Paul Gascoigne train kiss trial: Star breaks down in court

Mark Denten

BBC Look North

The former Newcastle and Middlesbrough footballer Paul Gascoigne has broken down in court as he denied sexually assaulting a woman on a train.

Giving evidence before a jury at Teesside Crown Court Mr Gascoigne said he was travelling from Birmingham to Newcastle with his nephews on 20 August last year.

He said many passengers were asking for selfies or autographs from him on the train.

Mr Gascoigne said he heard another male passenger, who he couldn’t see, say about a female passenger on the train: “What do you want a photo of her, she’s fat and ugly."

Mr Gascoigne said he “automatically” went to sit next to the woman but denied that he tried to sit on her.

He said he gave her a kiss “just on the lips.”

Mr Gascoigne became emotional in the dock and had to be handed a tissue by an usher as he gave his evidence.

He said he told the woman: “You’re not fat and ugly - you’re beautiful.”

He was asked whether he meant to kiss the woman in a sexual manner. “No” he replied.

Mr Gascoigne denies sexual assault by intentionally touching and the trial continues.

Paul Gascoigne trial: Star in 'drunken state' when arrested

Mark Denten

BBC Look North

A court’s heard the former Newcastle and Middlesbrough footballer Paul Gascoigne was in an “intoxicated, drunken state” before allegedly kissing a woman on a train.

British Transport Police Officer Sgt Robert Moody told a jury at Teesside Crown Court he questioned Mr Gascoigne at the Jesmond Dene Hotel in Newcastle, where he was staying after the alleged incident in August last year.

He said Mr Gascoigne’s speech was “very slurred” but when he was taken to Forth Banks Police Station In the city he cooperated and police did not have to use handcuffs.

The jury were also read Mr Gascoigne’s police interview in which he said “I’m not a serious person. I enjoy life like it is. I’ve got myself into a lot of trouble over the years.”

Officers asked him in the interview: “Was it of a sexual nature - the kiss?”

“No,” he replied.

Mr Gascoigne denies sexual assault by intentionally touching in August last year and the trial continues.

Paul Gascoigne
PA Media