Boos were drowned out by applause as the England players took the knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley. The Three Lions have decided they will continue to support the gesture as part of the fight against discrimination.
England faced boos from their own supporters at The Riverside ahead of both of their warm-up matches against Austria and Romania respectively.
However, the boos were soon drowned out by applause by those in attendance in Middlesborough and that was the same story again today inside Wembley.
Southgate and the players have made their position clear and they will not be budged.
Speaking ahead of kick-off, England boss Southgate explained this his players will not be affected by whatever response they received in the stands.
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“People can be derailed and we’ve all been involved in squads where things can be derailed a little bit. He hasn’t, he’s created a culture and togetherness.
“Obviously taking the knee has been a big issue coming into the tournament but they’ve come together.
“He’s said ‘listen, we aren’t going to be bullied. We’re not going to be told how we combat this type of stuff and we’re not going to let individuals to try and mislead the public into what our message is’.
“They don’t want racial discrimination to be a part of it and they will not be told how and which way we go about that.”
In an open letter to England supporters ahead of the tournament, Southgate has outlined the reasons he feels it is necessary to continue taking the knee.
“Our players are role models. And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society,” Southgate wrote for The Players’ Tribune.
“We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people. I have never believed that we should just stick to football.
“I know my voice carries weight, not because of who I am but because of the position that I hold. At home, I’m below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order but publicly I am the England men’s football team manager. I have a responsibility to the wider community to use my voice, and so do the players.”
Meanwhile, opponents Croatia refrained from kneeling, just as they have done in their tournament warm-up matches.
Tomislav Pacak, who is a spokesman for the HNS, has explained why the World Cup runners-up have decided not to take the knee.
“The Croatian Football Federation and all members of the national team always and everywhere condemn any form of discrimination,” Pacak said.
“We respect the right of every individual and organisation to choose their position against racism. HNS believes that all players have the right to have an opinion on these issues and choose how to position yourself.
“The HNS respects the position of the members of the national team and will not impose the obligation to kneel on them, which in Croatian culture is not a symbol of the fight against racism and discrimination.”