England plead with their fans not to boo when players take a knee ahead of Euro 2020 opener with Croatia at Wembley as FA say it is not ‘aligned to a political organisation or ideology’ but is a ‘gesture of unity and fighting against inequality’
- England fans have been urged not to boo their players taking a knee ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley
- The gesture was jeered in both of England’s recent friendlies in Middlesbrough
- Statement and video released by the FA have called for fans to respect players
- The message insists the gesture isn’t about politics but anti-discrimination
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
The Football Association has pleaded with fans not to boo when England’s players take a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia on Sunday.
Gareth Southgate’s side open their tournament on home turf at Wembley but there are fears the anti-discrimination gesture prior to kick-off could once again be jeered.
It follows the crowd at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough booing the players for taking a knee prior to the recent Euro warm-up friendlies against Austria and Romania.
England’s players were booed for taking a knee ahead of their two recent friendly matches
The Football Association has pleaded with fans not to jeer the gesture ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley
England manager Gareth Southgate (left) said the team will continue with the gesture
England have already made it clear they intend to take a knee before every one of their matches at the Euros and a video and statement released on the eve of their first game has urged fans to support them.
The statement insists that taking a knee isn’t political and isn’t linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, but is simply a stand against discrimination in all its forms.
The FA statement read: ‘Tomorrow, our England senior men’s team will begin their EURO 2020 campaign at hour home, Wembley Stadium.
‘Major tournaments don’t come around often and when they do, it’s an opportunity to unite friends, family and the country.
‘This collective support is what spurs our team on during challenging moments and it gives them the best chance of succeeding.
‘As the team has reiterated many times, they will collectively take the knee ahead of their fixtures during the tournament.
The FA released a statement on the eve of the match urging fans not to boo the players
A video released on the England Twitter account insisted the gesture wasn’t about politics
‘They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice and inequality.
‘This is personally important to the player and the values the team collectively represents.
‘This gesture of unity and fighting against inequality can be traced back as far as the 18th century.
‘It is not new, and English football has made it very clear that it does not view this as being aligned to a political organisation or ideology.
‘There can be no doubt as to why the players are taking a knee and what it represents in a footballing context.
There will be around 22,000 spectators at Wembley for the Euro 2020 opener on Sunday
The video called for the whole nation to come together and support the national side
‘We encourage those who oppose these values to reflect on the message you are sending to the players you are supporting.
‘Please respect their wishes and remember that we should all be united in the fight to tackle discrimination. Together.’
The FA received the backing of tournament organisers UEFA last week amid frustrations that the Government had refused to condemn fans who booed.
In addition to UEFA’s plea to fans, there will be a series of messages displayed on the big screen at Wembley on Sunday condemning discrimination and asking for the players to be treated with respect.
‘UEFA has a zero tolerance against racism and any player who wants to demand equality among human beings by taking the knee will be allowed to do so,’ a UEFA spokesperson said.
‘We urge spectators to show respect for teams and players taking the knee.’
The Croatian FA said they would leave the decision to their players as to whether to join England in taking a knee. The team have not performed the gesture in their recent friendlies.
Wales and Switzerland both took a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 match in Baku on Saturday.