15 June 2021

Gove backs players taking the knee after Patel brands it ‘gesture politics’

15 June 2021

Michael Gove said people should have the opportunity to show their “strength of feeling against prejudice”, after his Cabinet colleague Priti Patel branded the act of footballers taking the knee as “gesture politics”.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Mr Gove said he would be “lustily” supporting his native Scotland on Friday when they take on England in the Euros.

Scotland players will take the knee in solidarity with their England counterparts when they meet at Wembley in a group match.

Michael Gove indicated his support for people to show their strength of feeling against prejudice (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

Asked if he would be supporting people to take the knee before the game, the Cabinet Office minister told Times Radio: “I think that people who want to show their strength of feeling against prejudice should have the opportunity to do so.”

Predicting a 3-0 victory, he said he would be cheering Scotland “as lustily and in as Covid-secure a way as possible”.

He said: “I will be cheering them on from before the whistle blows until after, when of course Scotland will win 3-0.”

His comments come a day after the Home Secretary said she does not support England’s footballers taking the knee in protest against racial injustice.

Ms Patel did not condemn football fans who had booed players for taking the knee, calling it a “choice for them” after Gareth Southgate’s side faced jeers from a minority of fans at their first match of Euro 2020.

She told GB News on Monday: “I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well.”

Last week, when asked if Boris Johnson backs players taking the knee, a Number 10 spokesman said: “Yes.

“The Prime Minister respects the right of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices.

“The Prime Minister wants to see everybody getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”

The symbol of anti-racism solidarity gained attention in American football in 2016 as players protested against police brutality and racism in the US.

The act has since spread further and was adopted by footballers in the UK, partly to demonstrate that racism should not be tolerated in the sport.

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