Majority of England fans support players taking a knee before games, survey finds

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England's Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips take the knee before the international friendly against Romania (PA Wire)
England's Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips take the knee before the international friendly against Romania (PA Wire)

A majority of English football fans back players taking a knee before matches in a show of solidary against racism, a survey has found.

England players were met with boos from a section of supporters ahead of kick-off in both Euro 2020 warm-up games last week, despite pleas from manager Gareth Southgate to not boo the stance against racism.

The gesture began at games from the middle of last year in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing widespread public support although a minority of fans say it has lost its relevance and sport should not be politicised.

The YouGov survey of 4,500 fans in nine countries showed support strongest in Portugal, where 79% backed the gesture, followed by Italy (73%), Spain (71%) and Germany (60%).

In England, where a small section of fans booed players taking the knee at two recent international friendlies, support was at 54%, followed by Wales (53%), France (52%), Scotland (49%). The Netherlands saw the lowest support at 44%.

 (YouGov)
(YouGov)

In Britain, 78% of ethnically diverse fans were happy with players making the gesture, according to the survey which was carried out between February 23 and March 31.

England have vowed to continue taking the knee into the Euros, starting against Croatia on Sunday despite their opponents opting against the gesture.

By contrast, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, whose nation is one of the Euro 2020 hosts, said kneeling was a custom related to slavery and alien to Hungary, with pressure on athletes to follow suit a "provocation."

The YouGov survey found fewer fans were confident about the importance of taking the knee in actually tackling racism.

Portuguese fans were the most optimistic at 76%, while spectators from Wales (41%), England (37%) and Scotland (36%) came bottom of that list.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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