06 June 2021

England players booed as they take the knee ahead of friendly with Romania

06 June 2021

England players were once again booed by some of their own supporters when they took the knee before Sunday’s final Euro 2020 warm-up friendly against Romania.

The Three Lions welcomed back fans for the first time in 18 months on Wednesday, when the anti-racism stance was jeered by a pocket of the crowd before being drowned out by cheers ahead of the game against Austria.

Gareth Southgate spoke to his players about the incident ahead of Sunday’s return to Middlesbrough, saying on the eve of the match that “we feel more than ever determined to take the knee” at the Euros.

England v Romania – International Friendly – Riverside Stadium (PA Wire)

England issued a social media plea for fans to support players taking the knee ahead of the friendly against Romania, but yet again a number of them showed their opposition to the gesture.

Boos were heard around the Riverside Stadium, whereas others applauded to show their support of the players’ show of solidarity against social and racial injustice.

England’s starting line-up all kneeled, with all but two of Romania players doing the same.

Southgate had said the team were “collectively disappointed” about the negative reaction in midweek, which was the first England match played in front of fans since November 2019.

Southgate spoke at length about the matter during his pre-match press conference, with his stance subsequently supported by a message published on England’s official Twitter account.

“Ahead of today’s game, our players will once again take the knee as a show of solidarity with the black community, including members of our squad who themselves continue to suffer abuse on a regular basis,” read the tweet.

“Please support them, just as we know you will once the game begins.”

If we can affect only a handful of people, then we've made the world better for others

England will continue to take the knee throughout the forthcoming European Championship, which they begin next Sunday against Croatia at Wembley.

Southgate spoke eloquently about the subject on Saturday, saying his players are sick of talking about the gesture and would not take more questions on it during the tournament.

But the former defender said he must “never be allowed to be tired” of talking about such subjects as he has not experienced the kind of issues that his players have.

“If we can affect only a handful of people, then we’ve made the world better for others. I think we will affect more than a handful of people and for that reason it is worth us continuing,” he said.

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