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Euro 2020: England football fans boo Scottish national anthem – before Scots do the same

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Both national athems were tonight booed by opposing fans at the England vs Scotland Euro 2020 clash.

Fans then greeted both teams’ decisions to take the knee together in a show of solidarity against racial injustice with a mixture of cheers and boos.

Scotland’s players opted against taking the knee before their Euro 2020 opener against the Czech Republic on Monday, with both teams instead deciding to stand. 

Unlike England at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, Steve Clarke’s side stood with their hands behind their backs, deciding not to partake in the anti-racism gesture before their 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park.

That changed today, though, after Scotland confirmed last week that they will join England by kneeling ahead of kick-off at Wembley in the two sides’ second match 

Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those who have blasted England’s footballers for taking the knee, labelling the act ‘gesture politics’.

Ms Patel did not condemn football fans who had booed players for taking the knee, calling it a ‘choice for them’ after Gareth Southgate’s side faced jeers from a minority of fans at their first match of Euro 2020.

Scotland confirmed last week that they would join England by kneeling ahead of kick-off at Wembley in the two sides' second match

Scotland confirmed last week that they would join England by kneeling ahead of kick-off at Wembley in the two sides’ second match

Fans then greeted both teams' decisions to take the knee together in a show of solidarity against racial injustice with a mixture of cheers and boos. Pictured, England fans

Fans then greeted both teams’ decisions to take the knee together in a show of solidarity against racial injustice with a mixture of cheers and boos. Pictured, England fans

Scotland's players opted against taking the knee before their Euro 2020 opener against the Czech Republic on Monday, with both teams instead deciding to stand. Pictured, Scotland fans

Scotland’s players opted against taking the knee before their Euro 2020 opener against the Czech Republic on Monday, with both teams instead deciding to stand. Pictured, Scotland fans

Fans booed as both teams sang their national anthems ahead of the Euro 2020 match

Fans booed as both teams sang their national anthems ahead of the Euro 2020 match

She told GB News: ‘I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well.’

Ms Patel claimed Black Lives Matter protests last summer had a ‘devastating’ impact on policing, and particularly criticised the toppling of the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.  

On Wednesday, France footballers abandoned plans to ‘take the knee’ before their crunch European Championship match against Germany – because of fears that the gesture was ‘dividing more than uniting’. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those who have blasted England's footballers for taking the knee, labelling the act 'gesture politics'

Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those who have blasted England’s footballers for taking the knee, labelling the act ‘gesture politics’

Fans of England show their support prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium

Fans of England show their support prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium 

Fans watched on ahead of the Czech Republic game as both sets of players stood silently

Fans watched on ahead of the Czech Republic game as both sets of players stood silently

The game between two Euro 2020 favourites, France and Germany, began without either of them taking a knee

The game between two Euro 2020 favourites, France and Germany, began without either of them taking a knee

The French players have previously been criticised for taking a knee - here, they are pictured doing so before their Euro 2020 warm-up match against Wales

The French players have previously been criticised for taking a knee – here, they are pictured doing so before their Euro 2020 warm-up match against Wales 

The England team took a knee in the moments before their match with Croatia at Wembley

The England team took a knee in the moments before their match with Croatia at Wembley

Les Bleus, a team full of Premier League stars, had planned to go down on one knee before Tuesday’s game against Germany in Munich, which they won 1-0.

Many of the players have backgrounds in former French colonies such as Algeria and Mali, and are acutely sensitive to racism 

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon supports the country’s team taking the knee. She tweeted: ‘From kick-off at Wembley next Friday, Scotland and England will be the fiercest of opponents – but before that, the players will unite in solidarity against racism.

‘Good decision, Scotland – well done!’

There was initially some confusion over whether Scotland would or wouldn’t kneel, with the team initially saying they wouldn’t for any matches, before U-turning to confirm they will join follow England’s lead on Friday. 

There were some boos from the stands at Wembley on Sunday, but they were drowned out

There were some boos from the stands at Wembley on Sunday, but they were drowned out

Spain's players have been urged to stand rather than kneel ahead of kick-off against Sweden

Spain’s players have been urged to stand rather than kneel ahead of kick-off against Sweden

Speaking about the change of plans, the team’s captain Andy Robertson said: ‘Our position was – and remains – that the focus must be on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and wider society.

‘In Scotland, the football family has stood against racism all season. It was our collective view that the national team would do the same. Our stance is that everyone, players, fans, teams, clubs, federations, governing bodies and governments must do more. Meaningful action is needed if meaningful change is to occur.

‘But it is also clear, given the events around the England national team, taking the knee in this tournament matters as a symbol of solidarity.’

The act of taking the knee has become a huge talking point at this summer’s European Championship, with teams holding meetings to discuss whether they will kneel or stand. 

Nicola Sturgeon had tweeted her approval of Scotland's players taking the knee on Friday

Nicola Sturgeon had tweeted her approval of Scotland’s players taking the knee on Friday

England knelt on Sunday and Scotland will join their opponents in London on Friday evening

 England knelt on Sunday and Scotland will join their opponents in London on Friday evening

Poland’s players are reportedly in two minds having held a team meeting to discuss the anti-racism gesture ahead of their game against Slovakia this afternoon.

Spain, meanwhile, who take on Sweden tonight, have received a backlash from their fans who have threatened to boycott the tournament if the players kneel.

The phrase ‘If they take a knee, turn off the TV’ was trending across Spain on Monday morning, with supporters urging their players to continue to stand.

Spain have never previously kneeled before kick-off and it is expected they will not change their approach going into the tournament. 

Meanwhile, all 72 clubs in the EFL are to be consulted on how they want to present a united front against racism next season, amid growing concern that ‘taking a knee’ has become divisive. 

Clubs are desperate to find  an alternative to ‘the knee’ when domestic competition resumes in August and now the EFL has recruited an agency to run a far-reaching review.

Last term, on the few occasions that fans were actually allowed to attend matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, some players were booed when they took the knee before games in the EFL.

Scotland's players stand with their hands behind their backs before kick-off at Hampden Park

Scotland’s players stand with their hands behind their backs before kick-off at Hampden Park

Gareth Southgate said last week that he would not allow his players to continue to be questioned about the knee and the subsequent reaction once the tournament got under way. Pictured: England players Raheem Sterling and Kieran Trippier taking the knee against Croatia

Gareth Southgate said last week that he would not allow his players to continue to be questioned about the knee and the subsequent reaction once the tournament got under way. Pictured: England players Raheem Sterling and Kieran Trippier taking the knee against Croatia

Taking the knee has also attracted abuse from England supporters, including prior to the national team’s tournament opener against Croatia, raising further concerns for the season ahead.

‘We need to find a way out of it,’ said Ian Mather, chief executive of Cambridge United, where a small number of fans booed last season. ‘I think that will be shared across the EFL.

‘My personal view is that football should say at some point ‘we will stop taking the knee, but not stop fighting against racism’.

EFL clubs spoken to by Sportsmail are not objecting to the England team taking the knee during Euro 2020. In fact, the clubs believe the decision to take a knee, or not, remains with players and team managers at both an international and domestic level.

Ian Mather, chief executive of Cambridge United, has suggested an alternative is need to 'taking a knee' next season

Ian Mather, chief executive of Cambridge United, has suggested an alternative is need to ‘taking a knee’ next season

And Gareth Southgate and England have been clear it is something they feel very strongly about.

However, clubs would like an alternative action to demonstrate their commitment to equality and their stance against discrimination once domestic football resumes in August.

A minority of fans have justified their vocal objections to players taking the knee by claiming that the gesture is politicised because of an association with the Black Lives Matter organisation. Others have claimed they don’t want political gestures associated with football.

Booing was heard at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium for England’s warm-up matches ahead of Euro 2020 against Austria and Romania earlier this month.

The boos continued at Wembley when England played Croatia in their opening match of Euro 2020, although they were quickly drowned out by other fans’ cheers.

The FA released a statement on the eve of the Croatia  match urging fans not to boo the players

The FA released a statement on the eve of the Croatia  match urging fans not to boo the players

The abuse has persisted despite the England manager, Southgate, the players and the Football Association making it clear their actions are simply an anti-racism protest.

In an open letter to fans, Southgate said it was a ‘duty’ for stars to ‘interact with the public on matters such as equality and racial injustice’. 

The FA also asked supporters to back the players anti racist protest, stating: ‘They will do their best for you. Please do your best for them.’ 

However, clubs in the EFL have become concerned that if the national team with its profile and leverage is struggling to persuade fans that ‘the knee’ is simply a protest against racism, they will find it even harder to put the point across.

Last season, Mather and Cambridge won praise for the quick and decisive action the club took to deal with a small number of fans booing at the Abbey Stadium ahead of a League Two fixture against Colchester United.

The majority of England fans inside Wembley stadium obeyed Gareth Southgate's pleas to respect players as they took the knee ahead of their opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia

The majority of England fans inside Wembley stadium obeyed Gareth Southgate’s pleas to respect players as they took the knee ahead of their opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia

The majority of England flans applauded the players when they opted to take a knee

The majority of England flans applauded the players when they opted to take a knee

A small number of fans were heard booing players as they performed the gesture to protest against racism, before the jeers were drowned out by applause

A small number of fans were heard booing players as they performed the gesture to protest against racism, before the jeers were drowned out by applause

They handed a stadium ban to some and asked others to undertake education around discrimination and equality before they are allowed to attend again.

‘[The booing] is going to continue to hit the headlines,’ said the chief executive. ‘We are never going to get zero booing.’

Mather believes that one option could be designated days on which all of football, from the grassroots to the Premier League, undertakes a shared action. 

There is a feeling among some clubs that a link between ‘the knee’ and the Black Lives Matter organisation has taken root with a minority of supporters and as a result the gesture has become ‘divisive’.

Millwall fans booed players who took the knee at last season's Championship clash with Derby

Millwall fans booed players who took the knee at last season’s Championship clash with Derby

Players from both clubs took a knee before kick-off as part of the fight against racism

Players from both clubs took a knee before kick-off as part of the fight against racism

Gove backs players taking the knee after Patel branded it ‘gesture politics’ 

Michael Gove said people should have the opportunity to show their ‘strength of feeling against prejudice’, after his Cabinet colleague Priti Patel branded the act of footballers taking the knee as ‘gesture politics’.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Mr Gove said he would be ‘lustily’ supporting his native Scotland on Friday when they take on England in the Euros.

Scotland players will take the knee in solidarity with their England counterparts when they meet at Wembley in a group match.

Asked if he would be supporting people to take the knee before the game, the Cabinet Office minister told Times Radio: ‘I think that people who want to show their strength of feeling against prejudice should have the opportunity to do so.’

His comments come a day after the Home Secretary said she does not support England’s footballers taking the knee in protest against racial injustice.

Millwall fans booed their players taking a knee before kick-off in a home game against Derby, last season. The Millwall Supporters’ Club said the booing before the match was not motivated by racism, but ‘in opposition to the political views held by the Black Lives Matter organisation’.

One supporter was also heard booing at Exeter City and was ejected from the ground as a result.

Former FA chief executive and the owner of Tranmere Rovers, Mark Palios, believes it would be better to look for alternative actions, even though his club’s players will still be empowered to make their own decisions.

The debate about the gesture of taking the knee now extends well beyond football, to the very top of government.

On Monday, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, used an interview with GB News to accuse England players of ‘gesture politics’ after following their anti-racism protest at Wembley on Sunday.

Ms Patel claimed the Black Lives Matter protests last summer had a ‘devastating’ impact on policing as she criticised the toppling of the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

She also refused to criticise fans at the Euro 2020 opener who booed the team when they made the symbolic anti-racism gesture before kick-off.

However, No10 refused to back Patel’s comments, with a spokesman for the Prime Minister saying: ‘He wants to see fans cheering and not booing.

‘He wants to see everyone get behind this England team, and of course Scotland and Wales, who are competing in the Euros, that is very much his position.’

And shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens, went further saying it ‘beggars belief’ that the Home Secretary would try to ‘to provoke a fight with the England football team’ during the tournament.

Meanwhile, former West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers manager, Harry Redknapp, told GB News he was against people booing, but he added: ‘I don’t know how long we’re going to keep doing it for, it can’t go on forever can it.’ 

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