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Euro 2020: fans ‘boo the knee’ again but England will continue anti-racism stance

Gareth Southgate says the Three Lions are ‘more determined than ever’ to take the knee

Following the 1-0 win against Romania England head coach Gareth Southgate should have only had to answer questions about his side’s performance or even his possible starting XI for next weekend’s Euro 2020 group D opener against Croatia. Instead, he once again had to comment on England fans booing the team for “taking the knee”.  

Some England supporters booed the anti-racism gesture ahead of the friendly against Austria last Wednesday and on Sunday there were more boos before kick-off at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough. 

Southgate had asked fans not to boo the stance ahead of the final Euro 2020 warm-up game, but as they did on Wednesday, a minority ignored his pleas. 

‘Sadly, I expected it to happen’

In a pre-match press conference on Saturday Southgate said “we feel more determined than ever to take the knee”. However, speaking after the Romania game he “sadly sort of expected what happened to happen”.

“We’ve accepted that, as a group,” he said. “It isn’t going to stop what we are doing and what we believe. It certainly isn’t going to stop my support for our players and our staff. 

“That’s it, we are going to have to live with that. We’ve said what we are going to say now. You are right to ask the question today but moving forward, it is pointless me going into any further detail on that.”

Rashford: it’s the right thing to do

Despite the recent incidents, Southgate and his players agreed on the decision to continue to take the knee as “a gesture against racism and inequality”. He explained after the win against Romania that the stance will not change, The Independent reports. 

Marcus Rashford, England’s captain for the night and matchwinner against Romania, also confirmed that the Three Lions will carry on taking the knee before matches. He told ITV: “For us it is the right thing to do so we are going to continue to do it.”

‘It’s not about Marxism, it’s about another ism…’

Some football fans are against teams taking the knee because of its connection to Black Lives Matter - a group described by ex-Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips as a “neo-Marxist movement with various far left objectives”.

But booing the knee isn’t about Marxism, says Football365’s John Nicholson. It’s just all about another ism. “The Marxist excuses are pathetic and transparent,” he adds. “We know these people. Some who are just going along with it because they think it’s clever, or funny, or rebellious can be peeled off, but England has always had a hardcore of racists going back hundreds of years.”

Melissa Reddy, The Independent’s senior football correspondent, says that taking the knee is not about the Black Lives Matter movement and it’s not about politics either. “To frame it another way that highlights the reality of this action: some were heckling the symbol for equality for the black and mixed-raced players in the squad, which is supported and was pushed for by their peers.”

Three Lions are ‘totally united’

In a message to the fans who booed the team Southgate said “those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players and how that must feel”. 

He added: “If that was their children, if they are old enough to have children, how would they feel about their kids being in that sort of situation.

“The most important thing for our players is to know that we are totally united on it. We are totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team. We feel more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament. We accept that there might be an adverse reaction and we are just going to ignore that and move forward. 

“I think the players are sick of talking about the consequences of: ‘Should they? Shouldn’t they?' They’ve had enough, really.”

White replaces Alexander-Arnold 

England have called up Ben White to their 26-man squad for the Euros. He replaces Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold who has been ruled out with a thigh injury.

Brighton defender White was named in Southgate’s provisional 33-man list and played the full 90 minutes of the 1-0 win against Romania at the Riverside. In a tweet the 23-year-old said he was “beyond proud and honoured! I’ll give it my everything”. 

England’s Euro 2020 fixtures and squad 

Fixtures 
  • Sunday 13 June: England vs. Croatia (2pm, London; BBC) 
  • Friday 18 June: England vs. Scotland (8pm, London; ITV) 
  • Tuesday 22 June: Czech Republic vs. England (8pm, London; ITV)
Squad
  • Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton) 
  • Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atlético), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion) 
  • Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
  • Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) 

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