England manager Gareth Southgate says his team will take the knee at the European Championship despite the potential for an “adverse reaction” as those that booed the gesture at Middlesbrough only strengthened the group’s resolve.
The Three Lions have made the anti-racism stance in every match since international football resumed last year and will continue to do so despite some negative reaction when supporters returned on Wednesday.
Fans had been shut out of England matches for 18 months until the 1-0 win against Austria in a friendly at Middlesbrough on June 3, where the pre-match gesture was met by loud booing that was swiftly drowned out by the applause of others, reports pa news agency.
Southgate leads his side back to Middlesbrough for their final Euro 2020 warm-up match against Romania on Sunday, when the group will again take the knee — just as they will do throughout the summer.
“I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players and how that must feel,” the England manager said.
“If that was their children, if they’re old enough to have children, how would they feel about their kids being in that sort of situation?
“The most important thing for our players is to know that we are totally united on it. We’re totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team. We feel more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament.
“We accept that there might be an adverse reaction and we are just going to ignore that and move forward,” he added.
Southgate said his players were sick of talking about the gesture and would not take more questions on it during the tournament.