Gareth Southgate has said that England players are “role models” for a team’s decision to take the knee at Euro 2020 to highlight the issue of racial injustice. The Southgate team was swept away by a crowd at Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough last week when the Friendlies made a gesture against Austria and Romania, though they were drowned out by applause. Premier League players have been on their knees since the start of the shoot-up since George Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white police officer in the United States last year.
Fans are allowed to return to the stadiums in England, after reducing the coronavirus blockade, some politicians have spoken out against the gesture.
The controversy over the issue has caused unintentional confusion at the time of England’s opening match against Croatia on 13 June.
The three English team matches will be played at Wembley in front of 22,000 people as part of a pilot program for the return of fans.
Southgat, who had previously confirmed that his team would continue to take the knee in the delayed European Championships, 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 boundaries of the field, we need to recognize the impact they can have on society.
“We have to give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and for the things that matter as a person. I never believed we should just keep playing football.”
He added: “It is their duty to continue to interact with people on issues such as equality, inclusiveness and racial injustice, to help put the debate on the table, raise awareness and educate them while using the power of their voices.”
Southgate tried to heal the divisive success between England’s support and the players.
“We say something to our players before every game in England, and the reason for the replay is because I sincerely believe in it,” he said.
“I tell you that when you go out, with this shirt, you have the opportunity to produce Moments that people will remember forever.
“You are a part of the experience that lasts in the collective consciousness of our people.”
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