Fans Boo But England ‘Determined to Take the Knee’ Throughout Euro Championship

Black Lives Matter
SCOTT HEPPELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

England’s national football (soccer) team remains “totally united” on kneeling for Black Lives Matter going into the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, but are being met with boos by fans.

The players, manager Gareth Southgate, and others employed by the team bent the knee to the politically-charged race movement, as has been their custom ever since the death of George Floyd an ocean away in Minneapolis, ahead of a friendly match against Romania in Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Sunday — and were met with a chorus of boos.

The England players were joined on their knees by most of the Romanian team, although two players, named as Ionuț Nedelcearu and Nicolae Stanciu by The Sun, defied peer pressure and chose to remain on their feet.

Southgate had said on Saturday said that his diverse side “feel more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament” after being booed at a previous Middlesborough-hosted friendly against Austria on Wednesday.

“We accept there might be an adverse reaction and we’re just going to ignore that and move forward,” he said, dismissing the sentiments of supporters out of hand.

“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 are not going to take more questions on this through the tournament. If it happens, it happens. They’re very clear. Their voices have been heard loud and clear,” he reiterated.

Being booed again on Sunday did not budge Southgate from his position, with the millionaire manager insisting that “We’re very clear on our stand” in favour of kneeling.

While much of the mainstream media, including popular and notionally right-leaning outlets such as The Sun, have painted disgruntled spectators as the villains in the ongoing tension over the issue of sportsmen kneeling for Black Lives Matter, they have had support from some major public figures, including Brexit leader Nigel Farage.

The former UK Independence Party and Reform UK leader said Southgate was “out of touch” and defended fans as having “a right to boo when players take the knee for Marxist BLM.”

“The great British public have sussed it; they’ve woken up to the fact that taking the knee for the Black Lives Matter organisation isn’t about equality of opportunity, isn’t about racial justice — it’s about a Marxist organisation who wants to defund the police force, who wants to bring down Western capitalism, bring down our whole way of life, and replace it with a new communist order.”

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a controversial co-founder of Black Lives Matter in the United States, has indeed described herself as a “trained Marxist”.

Farage found some support from figures with Britain’s governing Conservative party, with backbench parliamentarian Lee Anderson having suggested that he would boycott the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship — which is taking place this year, due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic having postponed it — as a result of the Football Association’s stance on kneeling.

“The FA, Premier League and footballers now run the risk of becoming like the Labour Party and that is having nothing in common with their traditional supporters,” he said.

“For the first time in my life I will not be watching my beloved England team while they are supporting a political movement whose core principles aim is to undermine our way of life.”

Higher profile MPs with ministerial positions within the Conservative government, which has been notably weak on resisting the left on cultural and social issues throughout its now 11 years in office, have been much quieter, however.

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