As England’s players knelt before the kick-off of Wednesday’s friendly against Austria – a game also played at Middlesbrough – the gesture was booed by some fans.
“A strong and strong message”
“The cause 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,” Henry told CNN’s Darren Lewis.
“It’s not so much about kneeling or standing – which, by the way, I thought kneeling was a strong and strong message and we all know where that came from – but then the discussion turned to: are we standing or are we on our knees? “
Racism in England in 2021
But footballers are on their knees and the response from some fans to the act has sparked introspection and wider debate about what he says about racism in England in 2021
“Brexit has become an excuse for racism to resurface in the UK and we are seeing that manifesting itself in football now. I don’t think the players kneeling caused this, I think the people who kneel down trying to fix it.
“What is at the root of this is government behavior, government attitudes towards race, the inability to tackle racism at the national level and to allow organizations and sports like football to get away with it for years. “
Commenting on the boos ahead of the game against Austria, one Twitter user went even further.
Another Twitter user put forward a different point of view: “What if some people hoot themselves because they are fed up with virtue signals and nothing is done about it. Having to see the players get on their knees when nothing is happening, no changes are made, etc? “
“Confused and disappointed”
England manager Gareth Southgate said on Saturday his side will continue to kneel before all of their Euro 2020 matches kick off.
“The most important thing for our players is to know that we are totally united on this, we are totally committed to supporting each other,” Southgate told reporters.
“We feel, more than ever, determined to take the knee to the knee in this tournament. We accept that there may be an adverse reaction, we will just ignore it and move on.
“I think players are fed up with talking about the consequences of should they, shouldn’t they. They really have had enough.
“Their voices have been heard loud and clear, they are taking a stand but they want to talk about football.”
A member of England’s Euro 2020 squad – Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips – said he was “confused and disappointed” by the boos ahead of the game against Austria.
“I don’t think it’s a good situation, especially for us players,” said Phillips.
“The guys talked about it after the fact and we came to the conclusion that no matter what is going on around it, we’re still going to participate in kneeling, and I think that’s a great idea.”
When England players knelt ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Romania, boos were heard again at Riverside Stadium, although other fans applauded the gesture.
As at Euro 1996, England’s group matches will be played at Wembley Stadium. The team’s first game is against Croatia on June 13 in front of a crowd of 22,000.
“It was a coming together of all kinds of things – style, hope, politics, culture, business, sunshine, under the bright sun of international football.”
What happens ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Romania kicks off is likely to give some insight into whether the mood surrounding England’s Euro 2020 campaign will be just as upbeat.
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