England players to continue taking the knee at Euro 2020 despite fans booing

·3-min read
England players to continue taking the knee at Euro 2020 despite fans booing
 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

England will continue to take the knee before games at Euro 2020 despite being left "confused and disappointed" by fans booing them in a recent warm-up friendly.

Supporters at the Riverside Stadium booed as England and Austria players kneeled before Wednesday's warm-up clash - the first time an England side have made the anti-racism gesture in front of a home crowd.

After renditions of 'Football's Coming Home' and the national anthems, there were audible jeers as the players took the knee in Middlesbrough - though they were soon drowned out by cheers among the near-7,000 crowd.

England went on to win 1-0 thanks to a Bukayo Saka goal, and Gareth Southgate said following the game: "I did hear it. It's not something on behalf of our black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it is a criticism of them.

"I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it is a political stand that they don't agree with.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

"That's not the reason the players are doing it. We are supporting each other."

Speaking in the build-up to England's final warm-up friendly against Romania - once againat the Riverside - Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips told reporters that while the fans' reaction hurt the players, they will not be cowed into inaction.

“I think I was just happy that the boos got cancelled out by the fans cheering in the end, but I don’t think it’s a great situation, especially for us players,” Phillips said on Saturday.

“All we can do is just focus on the game and speak about it afterwards, and I think the team spoke about it together and we came up with the conclusion that regardless of what goes on around, we’re still going to participate in the kneeling, and I think that’s a great idea.”

Southgate said England were determined “more than ever” to take a knee through the tournament.

He said of the booing: “The first thing is we are collectively really disappointed it happened.

“Some people decide to boo - I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players and how that must feel, and if that was their 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’re totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

“We feel more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament. We accept there might be an adverse reaction, and we’re 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. As far as I’m concerned they are not going to take more questions on this through the tournament. If it happens, it happens. They’re very clear. Their voices have been heard loud and clear. They are making their stand but they want to talk about the football and want the focus to be on the football.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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