England players are set to take a knee during their World Cup campaign in Qatar. This move has sparked a number of controversies in the lead up to the tournament. The gesture is a protest against racism, but also a symbol of inclusivity. While some have booed the players, others have supported the gesture.
In a recent YouGov poll, nearly half of the people in England backed the decision to take the knee. But many senior government politicians resisted the decision. The UK Conservative Party and some members of the Labour Party are among those who refuse to support the team’s actions. The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, suggested that the booing is due to the Black Lives Matter message. The English Football Association (EFA) has said it will respect the decisions of the players. However, the EFA has not announced whether the players will be fined for taking the knee.
In 2020, the Premier League started to allow players to take a knee before games. This gesture is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement began in response to the killing of George Floyd, a police officer from Minneapolis. The gesture became a widespread practice in the sport, with players from the Championship league and the Premier League beginning to take it.
The gesture has since been adopted by the England men’s and women’s teams. It has been a talking point heading into the Euros in 2020. While some supporters have booed the players, most have largely ignored the protests. In the lead up to the World Cup, Gareth Southgate has been vocal in his support for the gesture. He has even stated that it is an important part of England’s history.
While taking a knee during a game can be seen as a political statement, some fans believe the gesture has lost its meaning. For instance, the English born Ivory Coast international Wilfred Zaha stopped taking the knee in the Premier League last year. He says it is becoming a hollow gesture. The only Black manager in the Premier League is Tottenham’s Gareth Southgate.
Ahead of the Euros, the England men’s and women’s team decided to take a knee before each match. The gesture is not breaking FIFA kit regulations, which prohibit personal sentiments. It is an act of protest against racial inequality, and will not interfere with the flow of play.
The team’s decision was met with a number of criticisms, including from Boris Johnson. He said that it was up to the players to decide what they want to do, but that it was unacceptable for the public to boo them. He refused to call the booers out. But in the future, he has promised to support the players and he has encouraged them to continue the gesture.
In a press conference before the start of the Euros, Gareth Southgate defended the knee and stated that it is an important part of England’s football history. He has also vowed that the team will continue to take a knee during the tournament.