Twenty-five years ago, when England hosted Euro 1996, the country was obsessed with the team that reached the semi-finals of the European Championship with a thrilling game, prompting fans to sing “Footballs Coming Home”. , Chorus of the song “Teen Sher”.
England will play their last friendly against this Sunday (6) in Middlesbrough, before the start of Euro 2020 next Friday (11) Romania, but the mood is more unpleasant.
As England players took a knee before the start of Wednesday’s friendly against Austria – a game also played in Middlesbrough – was pointed out by some fans.
Players did the same thing ahead of last month’s FA Cup final between Leicester City and Chelsea.
“Very Strong Message”
The act of kneeling – made famous in 2016 by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee in protest of the US national anthem – was adopted by English Premier League football players as an act during the 2019/2020 season. An act of solidarity following the global outcry over the killing of George Floyd.
In the previous season, England’s Premier League players took a knee before games, although Crystal Palace star Wilfred Zaha became the first Premier League player not to do so before the start of the match, instead introducing his team’s match against West Brom. opted to give.
In March, former Arsenal and Barcelona star Thierry Henry said CNN That the discussion on the issue has changed so much that people are now “forgetting” why the players started kneeling.
Henry told CNN’s Darren Lewis, “The reason is, what are you going to do to make it better for everyone? Equality. Everyone, and obviously I’m going to talk about my community.” “
“It’s not so much about kneeling or standing – by the way, I thought taking a knee was a very strong message and we all know where it comes from – but then the discussion shifted: can we stand? Or are we kneeling?”
Racism in England in 2021
But football players have fallen to their knees and some fans’ reaction to the act has sparked a question and widespread debate about what it says about racism in England in 2021.
Asked whether people were “using their racism more lightly” because of the protests, Tony Burnett, chief executive of the football inclusion organization Kick It Out, told the Independent newspaper this week: “I don’t think it It’s about taking a knee. I think it’s the hate, the polarization and the binary positions that people took since Brexit began.”
“Brexit has become an excuse for a resurgence of racism in Britain and we are seeing it manifest in football now. I don’t think the players who got down on their knees caused it, I think the people who took the knee They’re trying to solve it.” to continue.
“This is because of the government’s attitude towards race, the failure to fight racism at the national level, and the years of letting organizations and sports like football stay away from it.”
Earlier this year, a British government-backed report on institutional racism that found no evidence that the country is “still institutionally racist” was criticized by supporters of racial equality.
Former England national Gary Lineker tweeted, “If you get the players of England to kneel, you are part of the cause of the players kneeling.”
Commenting on the achievement before the game against Austria, a Twitter user went even further.
“Based on what we are seeing from a small number of fans, England will be seriously embarrassed at Euro 2020 by the extreme racist element of our fans,” he tweeted. “There is no way to hide, they proudly pride themselves on the recognition of equality. Hard to believe.”
Another Twitter user took a different point of view: “What if some people boo because they’re bored with a sign of virtue and nothing is really being done about the problem. Watching players kneel when some And not happening, no changes etc being made?”
‘Confused and disappointed’
On Saturday, England coach Gareth Southgate said his team would continue to take a knee before the start of all Euro 2020 matches.
“The most important thing for our players to know is that we are completely united in this, we are absolutely committed to supporting each other,” Southgate told reporters.
“More than ever, we are determined to get on our knees in this tournament. We acknowledge that there can be adverse reactions, let’s ignore it and move on.”
“I guess the players are tired or they should talk about the consequences, right?”
“Their voices were heard loud and clear, they are defending their position, but they want to talk about football.”
Leeds midfielder Calvin Phillips – a member of England’s Euro 2020 squad – said he was “confused and disappointed” ahead of the match against Austria.
“I don’t think it’s a good situation, especially for us players,” Phillips said.
“People talked about it later and we’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what happens around us, we’re still going to take part in the rally, and I think it’s a good idea.”
Conservative MP Lee Anderson has said he will boycott England’s games because of the players’ decision to kneel.
As England players took their knees ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Romania, the buzz was heard again at Riverside Stadium, though other fans applauded the gesture.
As at Euro 1996, England’s group stage matches will be played at Wembley Stadium. The team’s first match will be against Croatia on 13 June in a crowd of 22,000 people.
“Euro 96 was a golden age – or three golden weeks,” wrote Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone on Saturday.
“It was a bunch of style, hope, politics, culture, commerce, sunshine, all kinds of things under the umbrella of international football.”
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