The FA have released a statement and video calling on England’s supporters not to boo players for taking the knee before their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate’s men return to London to begin their European Championship campaign, having played two warm up matches against Austria and Romania at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.
The players were booed by a number of fans prior to kick-off of both games, having taken the knee in support of the continued fight against discrimination and racial abuse. Southgate has already outlined England’s reasons for continuing to take the knee, and that stance has now been backed up by a powerful video message which pleads with fans to ‘respect the message’ being sent out.
“Tomorrow, our England senior men’s team will begin their Euro 2020 campaign at our home, Wembley stadium,” the accompanying FA statement began. “Major tournaments don’t come around often and when they do, it’s an opportunity to unite friends, families 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.
“They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice, and inequality. This is personally important to the players 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 the knee and what it represents in a footballing context.
“We encourage those that oppose this action 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.
“They will do their best for you. Please do your best for them.”
England’s official Twitter broadcasted an accompanying video, telling supporters, “Now when we read the comments, see the emojis or hear the boos, we suffer together, then respond as one. This isn’t politics, this isn’t new. This is about humanity. Community. Equality. This summer, we need you. All of us, all of you.”