Soccer

England players to continue taking the knee during Euro 2020 despite booing

England’s players will continue to take the knee throughout this summer’s Euro 2020 campaign despite a section of their own support booing the gesture earlier this week.

Gareth Southgate revealed on Saturday that he has held a meeting with his players to discuss whether to keep making the stand against racism despite opposition from a minority of fans at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium during Wednesday’s friendly win over Austria.

The booing at the Riverside was eventually drowned out by applause, but England will return to Middlesbrough on Sunday for their second pre-tournament friendly against Romania, with concerns that there will be a repeat.

England also play all three of their group stage matches at Wembley and there are fears that booing could marr games at the tournament itself.

Southgate said that after holding discussions with senior players and the whole squad, England will continue to take the knee throughout the summer regardless of the reaction in the stands, and that players would not be taking further questions on their decision.

“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. We feel that more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament,” he said.

“We accept there might be an adverse reaction. 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’re not going to take more questions on this through the tournament. If it happens, it happens. They’re really clear, their voices have been heard loud and clear. They’re making their stand but they want to talk about the football and the focus to be on football. “

The England manager added: “We had a productive meeting with a group of the players yesterday, we enlarged that to the wider group today. But there are other things we need to spend our time on and the players want to spend their time on.

“That’s not them dismissing the importance of this, they know the power of their voices, they know the fact that they can make a difference, but they do at this moment want talk to be about their football and to be able to concetrate on their football and use the impact of their voice at a more appropriate time when they feel they can make a difference.

“Today we can because of what happened. I think the fact we’re going to keep going is impactful.”

Kalvin Phillips, the Leeds midfielder, said he was “confused and disappointed” by the reaction of some fans at the Riverside to the gesture.

“I was just happy the boos were cancelled out by the fans cheering in the end,” Phillips added.

“I don’t think it’s a great situation for us players. All we can do is focus on the game, speak about it afterwards and came to the conclusion that regardless of what goes on we’re still going to participate in the kneeling.”

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