Thousands of England fans BOOED team for taking knee before Euro 2020 warm-up with Austria leaving BBC pundits stunned – as supporters fume over ‘politicising’ of beautiful game
- England players took the knee before their friendly victory over Austria
- But supporters booed the gesture at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday
- Manager Gareth Southgate and Jack Grealish both slammed the reaction
- Some took to Twitter to defend supporters – claiming the gesture is ‘political’
Jonathan Spencer – Daily Mail June 2, 2021
Thousands of England fans booed the players as they took the knee last night before their match against Austria, leaving BBC pundits stunned amid growing supporter discontent at the gesture.
After renditions of ‘Football’s Coming Home’ and the national anthems, there were audible jeers as the players took the knee at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium – the first time an England side have done so in front of a home crowd.
The boos were so loud that BBC Radio 5 Live commentator John Murray was left stunned, telling listeners: ‘Wow that was quite a reaction. There was a lot of booing there. I’m quite taken aback by how loud that was.’
The stadium welcomed 8,000 fans for the match against Austria, with TV images suggesting a significant portion of several thousand were behind the booing.
Despite cheers drowning out the boos soon after, the episode reflects growing anger among supporters who see the gesture as ‘political’.
England manager Gareth Southgate and TV host Piers Morgan led condemnation of the booing, but other supporters rallied to defend the fans on Twitter.
One fan wrote: ‘It’s nothing about the colour of anybody’s skin. You don’t have to get on your knees to be against racism. It’s about time footballers stopped getting on their knees for a political movement.’
Another added: ‘The boos are not in support of racism, but in the act of taking the knee, which has become a political statement. Political statements have no place in sport.’
While a third said: ‘Unfortunately taking the knee, whether it means so or not, is now associated by many with a political movement who run petitions off their websites calling for #DefundThePolice and educational movements which do not sit well with a large proportion of the population.’