England urge fans to support players taking the knee

Jeers greeted players taking the knee ahead of England’s midweek game against Austria

England have issued a plea for fans to support players taking the knee ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Romania in Middlesbrough.

Loud booing greeted the anti-racism gesture ahead of Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Austria at the Riverside Stadium before being drowned out by the applause of other supporters.

The Three Lions play at the same venue on Sunday afternoon in their final warm-up match ahead of Euro 2020 and will continue to show solidarity in the ongoing fight against racial inequality having done so in each match since international football resumed last year.

Manager Gareth Southgate said the team were “collectively disappointed” about the negative reaction in midweek, which was the first England match played in front of fans since November 2019.

Southgate spoke at the length about the matter during his pre-match press conference, with his stance subsequently supported by a message published on England’s official Twitter account.

“Ahead of today’s game, our players will once again take the knee as a show of solidarity with the black community, including members of our squad who themselves continue to suffer abuse on a regular basis,” read the tweet.

“Please support them, just as we know you will once the game begins.”

England will continue to take the knee throughout the forthcoming European Championship, which they begin next Sunday against Croatia at Wembley.

Southgate spoke eloquently about the subject on Saturday, saying his players are sick of talking about the gesture and would not take more questions on it during the tournament.

But the former defender said he must “never be allowed to be tired” of talking about such subjects as he has not experienced the kind of issues that his players have.

“If we can affect only a handful of people, then we’ve made the world better for others. I think we’ll affect more than a handful of people and for that reason it is worth us continuing,” he said.

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