England manager Gareth Southgate questions fans booing players for taking the knee

The majority of those in attendance at the match supported the players' gesture and their cheers drowned out the naysayers.

Gareth Southgate in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Jun 3, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

England manager Gareth Southgate on Saturday said that the fans booing his players as they were taking the knee did not understand the message. Southgate’s comments come after a friendly played between England and Austria. Before the match began, the English players took the knee to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. A section of the fans did not take kindly to the gesture and booed. However, the majority of those in attendance supported the players’ gesture and their cheers drowned out the naysayers. England hosted Austria at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesborough in a friendly match. The game had drawn 7,000 fans.

“I did hear it,” Southgate said at the post-match press conference. “It’s not something on behalf of our black players I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them,” he added. The English players have been vocal about their support to the Black Lives Matter movement for a couple of years now. They have been taking the knee since the 2019-20 season, since the murder of American George Floyd. The incident had sparked the movement all around the globe.

“I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with,” Southgate said. “That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We’re supporting each other. I was pleased that was drowned out by the majority of the crowd. We can’t deny the fact that it happened. I think the most important thing for our players to know is all their teammates and all the staff are very supportive.”

“I think the majority of people understand it. I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message. I suppose we’re seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment,” he added.

The match against Austria was part of the Thee Lions’ preparation ahead of the Euros that will begin on June 11. A 58th minute Bukayo Saka goal saw them get the better of the Austrians. England will play their first match against Croatia on June 13.

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