Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation, and the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), the representative body for football supporters in England and Wales, are calling on England fans to stop the boos, support the team and applaud players taking the knee.
Gareth Southgate and his England players have repeatedly stated that taking the knee is a symbol of the continuing battle against racial inequality. Jeering the players is also jeering what the gesture stands for.
Once players are in position to take the knee, Kick It Out and the FSA are asking fans to start their applause as early as possible, to show the players and the team we are all behind them, as they commence their Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday.
Tony Burnett, Kick It Out CEO, says: “Gareth Southgate and the England players have made their position really clear – they are taking the knee as an anti-discrimination gesture, it is in no way linked to any political organisation. All of us England fans, myself included, want to see England succeed in the Euros, so we are asking for fans at the games to drown out boos with applause and show the players we are behind them.
For those fans who have booed or want to boo, we would urge you to think about how that impacts the players – the same players who we want to bring England success in this tournament. The real issue we all want to address, is tackling discrimination in football, and that is something we can and should all get behind. So let’s support the team, support the players and unite against racism and all forms of discrimination.”
Kevin Miles, FSA CEO, says: “Fans who turn up to support the England team and make their first act after the referee’s whistle booing their own team’s stance against racism, should be ashamed of themselves. We stand with those supporters who have reacted positively by applauding the players taking part in their demonstration.
The boos are particularly disappointing given that just 20 months ago England fans took a strong stance against racism – backing their players during an onslaught of racist abuse directed at every black England player from the Bulgarian crowd in Sofia. We would urge everyone to show solidarity once more by supporting the team, supporting the players and supporting the knee.”
Kunal Sapat, founder of England fan group Block 109, says, “Our aim at Block 109 is to show support to the England team on and off the pitch. We are against all forms of discrimination and with this being the most important tournament on home soil for a generation and our best chance to win a trophy, we urge fans to show positive support to our players taking the knee in the fight against racism.”