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Southgate’s England players are ‘role models’ as kneeling row simmers

London (AFP) – Gareth Southgate says his England players are “role models” as a row simmered over the team’s decision to take the knee at Euro 2020 to highlight the issue of racial injustice.

Southgate’s side were booed by a section of the crowd at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium when they made the gesture before friendlies against Austria and Romania last week, though the jeers were drowned out by applause.

Premier League players have been going down on one knee before kick-off since George Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white police officer in the United States last year.

With fans now allowed back in stadiums in England after the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, some politicians have voiced their opposition to the gesture.

The debate over the issue has provided an unwelcome distraction in the build-up to England’s opening game against Croatia on June 13.

All three of England’s group matches will take place at Wembley in front of crowds of 22,000 as part of a pilot scheme for the return of supporters.

Southgate, who had previously confirmed his side would continue taking the knee at the delayed European Championship, said the team had an important role to play.

“Our players are role models,” the England boss wrote in the Players’ Tribune. “And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society.

“We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people. I have never believed that we should just stick to football.”

He added: “It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”

Southgate tried to heal a potentially divisive rift among England’s support and the players.

“There’s something I tell our players before every England game, and the reason that I repeat it is because I really believe it with all my heart,” he said.

“I tell them that when you go out there, in this shirt, you have the opportunity to produce moments that people will remember forever.

“You are a part of an experience that lasts in the collective consciousness of our country.”

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  1. Donald Dickerson

    June 8, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Oh ok I’ll have to pay a little more attention to who write the articles moving forward.

    Thank you for the clarification.

  2. Donald Dickerson

    June 8, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    An article every day makes me thing WST wants the back and forth between BLM and those who dont agree with what BLM actually says it stands for.

    Players have no choice they must kneel thus I stand with the people who boo. Even in your article you say its because of the Minneapolis shooting. So dont give me this Kick out racism if you dont even mention it at all in this article.

    I’m sorry that soccer has to cater to leftist and their agenda. I personally stopped watching Nascar when they went all Trump however they did a 180 and are now more woke.

    Sports should be a place for everyone. You should have a Love Hate relationship with the Other team not a Love hate with your own team.

    My idea of having the small soccer balls with a team logo and a Kick out racism on the opposite side with the players throwing or kicking them into the stands I personally think would do more than a knee since the knee has been taken over by the radical left/right.

    • Christopher Harris

      June 8, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      Don, the articles in question are written by AFP (Agence France-Presse), which is a news wire service based out of Paris. Yes, they’re published on World Soccer Talk, but it’s part of a news feed we subscribe to. We’re not writing the articles. AFP is reporting the soccer news from around the world, and are not editorializing.

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