03 Jun Gareth Southgate: England boss criticises fans who booed players taking the knee before Austria game | UK News
England boss Gareth Southgate has said he believes the message behind taking the knee is being lost on some people after fans jeered the gesture before the team’s friendly against Austria.
It was the first time an England team had made the anti-racism gesture on home soil as they played a warm-up game for their Euro 2020 campaign at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
Cheers soon drowned out the negative reaction but England manager Southgate said he hopes it doesn’t start a trend in the upcoming tournament.
“I was pleased it was drowned out by the majority of the crowd but we can’t deny it happened,” Southgate said.
“It’s not something on behalf of our black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it is a criticism of them.
“I think the majority of people understand it. Some people aren’t quite understanding the message and I suppose we are seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.”
Midfielder Jack Grealish said none of the players were happy about it.
“I think that will get talked about in the next few days,” Grealish told Sky Sports.
“It’s a thing we don’t want in football in general and especially in our games.”
England won the match with Austria 1-0, with Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka – of Nigerian descent – scoring the winner.
The delayed European Championships – which were meant to take place last year – start on 11 June.
England’s first game is against Croatia on 13 June, while Wales play Switzerland the day before.
Scotland kick off their campaign against the Czech Republic on 14 June.