Soccer

Gareth Southgate says England squad are 'totally united' in continuing to take a knee at Euro 2020

Gareth Southgate says England are “more than ever determined” to take a knee during Euro 2020 and players are “sick” of talking about the consequences of taking part in the anti-racism gesture.

England’s players were booed by a section of fans before their friendly win against Austria at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday.

Southgate held a meeting with a group of the squad on Friday, during which they agreed to continue taking a knee before matches.

The England manager is aware there could still be an “adverse reaction” from fans, despite a plea for them to reconsider the impact of their reaction.

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“We are collectively really disappointed that it happened,” Southgate said ahead of England’s final warm-up match against Romania in Middlesbrough on Sunday.

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“You have to put yourself in the shoes of an England player about to represent his country and because we are all trying to support the move for equality, the move for supporting our team-mates… some of the experiences they have been through in their lives.

“Some people decide to boo. I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players and how that must feel.

“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.

“Most important thing for our players is to know 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. The players are sick of talking about the consequences of should they, shouldn’t they. They have had enough really.”

Southgate said the squad would not continue to take questions on the subject should boos continue to persist during this summer’s major tournament, with England due to open their campaign against Croatia on June 13 at Wembley.

“There are other things we need to spend our time on and the players want to spend their time on,” he added.

“That is not that they are dismissing the importance of this. They know the power of their voices. They know that they can make a difference.”

Phillips ‘confused and disappointed’ at booing

Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who did not play in midweek, said he was “confused and disappointed” that some fans had booed the taking of a knee – an act which has taken place at games since the latter stages of the 2019-20 season.

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“I was just happy the boos got cancelled out by the fans cheering in the end. I don’t think it is a great situation especially for us as players,” the 25-year-old added.

“The team spoke about it together and we come up with the conclusion that regardless of what goes on around we are still going to participate in the kneeling and I think that is a great idea.”

‘Respect England’s black players – don’t boo them’

Former Republic of Ireland forward Clinton Morrison told Sky Sports News

“We are trying to educate the young kids at this precise moment. That [booing taking a knee] is not educating them. And it is going to happen all through the Euros. England are playing at Wembley [and] there will be more boos.

“The people that do it think it is funny. It is not funny, it is not clever.

“As Gareth Southgate said, they [the England squad] will continue to try and educate people, keep trying to talk about it but not as much because England obviously are concentrating on trying to win the Euros [and] every time he goes into a press conference he doesn’t want to speak about that.

“But, the fans are not being clever. It is good to have fans back in the stadium, but they don’t understand why the players are doing it. The players have come out numerous times and explained why they are doing it. What more can the players do?”

“These are black players playing for their country, representing England. Support these black players. It is not big and it is not clever. Support the movement that they are trying to [get behind] and to stop racism. Don’t go and boo it…

“So, if you want to carry on booing, carry on booing. But it is not helping these young black players.”

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