British fans responded to a pregame protest by showering boos upon England’s soccer team before a match against Austria on Wednesday.
The English team knelt in what was billed as an anti-racism gesture before about 7,000 fans at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, according to ESPN.
Although the round of booing was followed by cheering, the booing was so vast that BBC Radio 5 Live commentator John Murray remarked upon it.
“Wow, that was quite a reaction. There was a lot of booing there. I’m quite taken aback by how loud that was,” he said.
“I’m quite taken aback as to how loud that was” – @bbcjohnmurray
Listen to the moment some fans inside the Riverside booed England and Austria players taking the knee.
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) June 2, 2021
After the game, coach Gareth Southgate scolded the fans for ruining a day when England won a 1-0 victory over Austria.
“I did hear it,” Southgate said, according to The Guardian.
“It’s not something on behalf of our black players I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them,” the coach said.
Southgate said the fans did not know what they were doing.
“I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with,” he said. “That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We’re supporting each other.”
Gareth Southgate has stressed England players are making a stand against racism – and not a political message – after his side were booed for taking a knee against Austria@sr_collings#ThreeLions https://t.co/r2ThHFQAty
— Standard Sport (@standardsport) June 2, 2021
“I was pleased that was drowned out by the majority of the crowd,” the coach added.
Southgate indicated that the boos will not change anything.
“We can’t deny the fact that it happened. I think the most important thing for our players to know is all their teammates and all the staff are very supportive. I think the majority of people understand it. I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message. I suppose we’re seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment,” he said.
Bukayo Saka, who scored England’s goal, was confused.
“I don’t understand why they did it,” he said. “I heard some boos and I heard some claps. But you’ll have to ask the fans that were booing to understand why they did it.”
Many were happy to explain on Twitter.
If you don’t want players to be booed then don’t import American identity politics gestures like taking the knee. It isn’t complicated. https://t.co/4rlXvTsQ9c
— Keith Mills (@KeithMillsD7) June 3, 2021
BLM is a political movement. They are not booing the black players they are booing what the knee represents. Easy to call English fans racist. Research a bit more and you will understand why. BLM was invented to cause division and it has done exactly that. https://t.co/aLHqVBfMqk
— Fred Wells (@travelgeezaffc) June 3, 2021
England’s Jack Grealish said players did not like being booed.
“I think that will get talked about in the next few days,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s a thing we don’t want in football in general and especially in our games.”
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