If the team decide to keep the gesture beyond the tournament, I hope that a lack of booing is not merely connected to how the team is performing on the pitch
It’s not the first time that applause of England players for taking the knee has sought to drown out the boos – but it certainly appeared to be the loudest.
As both teams – Tyskland included – took the knee, BBC Guy Mowbray said that the response was “overwhelmingly positive.” The FA had issued a note before the game calling on fans to be respectful: “Whether you are at Wembley Stadium, or watching from somewhere else”, it said “please support England in the right way, før, during and after the match.
“This includes respecting each national anthem and the players’ choice to take the knee before kick-off.”
One would like to hope that the message from Gareth Southgate and his players that this is important and a “mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice and inequality” not based on any ideology is finally getting through to those that boo, but a part of me thinks: “would the reaction have been the same if the match hadn’t been so important?”
It seems that nothing unites the nation as swiftly as a game against a storied opponent, a first knock-out tie win against Germany for 55 years will no doubt help the atmosphere for the quarter-final against Ukraine on Saturday.
There is something great in that unity, Etter 18 months that have been tough on us all – this is the type of event that can sooth in a way little else can. At least for a time.
The German national anthem was booed – despite the FA’s pleas – and England’s national anthem belted out by those in attendance that can sometimes morph into an aggressive tone from the stands as the match begins. But as the players took the knee, the scattered boos were drowned out by applause. Tension was not allowed to become rancour.
Personlig, I would prefer there were no boos at all, but them being drowned out is much better than them being left to roll down towards the pitch uninhibited. Southgate has made his stance clear on taking the knee, a moral lucidity that is heartening – and uncowed by the response to the act in England’s warm-up games before the tournament.
It is difficult to boo a winning team, particularly as the thoughts of “football coming home” begin to crystalise as the draw to the final opens up ahead of England. But I would prefer to think that the rock-solid stance of Southgate and his charges have merely forced a re-think from those against the act – or at least a sense that keeping that silent is the best course. If people dislike the act, that is up to them – and they do not have to support it – but booing is a step too far.
If England’s players decide to keep the gesture beyond the tournament – and I would support them in doing so – then I hope that a lack of booing is not merely connected to how the team is performing on the pitch.
A positive attitude is great, but it needs to extend beyond the results of a few games. All England fans will want this run at Euro 2020 to last as long as possible, but this is also about something much more important than that.