Mixed emotions as some England fans choose to boo the taking of the knee while many applaud

Mixed emotions as some England fans choose to boo the taking of the knee while many applaud

The England football team have started their Euro 2020 campaign with a group stage game at Wembley against Croatia, the team that beat them in the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Much of the discussion before the game was about Gareth Southgate’s team selection and the non-debate around footballers taking the knee before the kick-off to show solidarity and support for Black Lives Matter and those facing racial inequality around the world.

The stance had been booed by supposed fans at England’s friendlies before the tournament. Following this, individuals such as Nigel Farage, Laurence Fox, Brexiteers and a handful of Tory MPs had claimed that the act was political and showed support for ‘Marxism’ and that they didn’t want political messages creeping into football.

The England team, including Southgate, responded by saying that taking the knee had nothing to do with politics and was purely a stance against racism. The Football Association also released a statement and video on the eve of Sunday’s game urging supporters not to boo and show support for the team and the message they are trying to send.

Unfortunately, despite this, some of the few fans that were in the stadium still chose to boo the knee although they were drowned out by applause from other supporters. There were also audible boos for the Croatia national anthem. Croatia, incidentally, did not take the knee.

Regardless it’s still disappointing to hear that some chose to ignore the wishes of the team.

Henry Winter of The Times asked why those fans would boo a player like Raheem Sterling, who was named on the Queen’s birthday honours list for his services to racial equality a sentiment echoed by many.

Rob Harris of the Associated Press also reported that he heard chants of ‘No surrender,’ an anti-IRA chant which really has no place in football, from some in the crowd.

There was also footage from outside the stadium just hours before kick-off of a group of fans singing ‘ten German bombers’ a World War II song that some England fans have adopted to show their ‘patriotism.’

On Saturday night, Belgium footballers who took the knee before their game against Russia were booed by fans in Saint Petersburg.

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