ROME – It’s a gesture that has stirred some controversy in the European football tournament.
Taking a knee to protest against racism, and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A move done by members of the England national team just before they won 1-0 in their opening game against Croatia.
If 3 Lions supporters at Wembley stadium clapped, many were scared at a possible strong reaction from the fans to the symbolic gesture.
England’s left-back Luke Shaw was very clear in a press conference earlier this week: when asked whether players might continue to take the knee during Euro 2020, he said the players will carry on, even if some supporters may disagree with it.
“We all agree that it was the right thing to carry on taking the knee. It’s as simple as that. We’ll keep doing that and we believe in that. We won’t stop,” Luke Shaw told journalists.
England manager Gareth Southgate also supported his players in their decision.
“We feel that more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament. We accept there might be an adverse reaction and we’re just going to ignore that and move forward,” he said.
“I think the players are sick of talking about the consequences of ‘should they, shouldn’t they.’ They’ve had enough really,” Southgate added.
Members of the Dutch national team however said they will not be kneeling before their games, following countries such as Croatia, Czech Republic or Hungary.
“Before all this, we had not been doing it,” Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum told the press.
“Only the players in England had been used to kneeling down before the games. Other players did not do it. In our other international matches, we had not been doing so.”
Out of all teams that refused to take a knee, Hungary has stirred the biggest controversy.
The country’s Prime minister Viktor Orban even said the act of kneeling to protest before sporting events was a custom related to slavery and was not a part of the central European country.
He later added the kneeling was a provocation, that “had no place on the pitch”.