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Gareth Southgate sends message to fans who booed players taking the knee

Gareth Southgate sends a message for fans who booed players taking the knee prior to kick off in the game between England and Austria.

The boss was left angry after the anti-racism gesture was greeted by loud boos just before kick-off.

Southgate said he will defend his players and stressed the act of taking a knee should not be seen as a political message.

“I did hear it,” Southgate said. “It’s not something on behalf of our black players I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them. I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with. That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We’re supporting each other. I was pleased that was drowned out by the majority of the crowd.

“We can’t deny the fact that it happened. I think the most important thing for our players to know is all their teammates and all the staff are very supportive. I think the majority of people understand it. I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message. I suppose we’re seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.”

Bukayo Saka, who earned England victory with his first goal at international level, was left perplexed. “I don’t understand why they did it,” the 19-year-old said. “I heard some boos and I heard some claps. But you’ll have to ask the fans that were booing to understand why they did it.”

England, who were without a host of key players against Austria, will now have to wait to discover Alexander-Arnold’s fitness. The Liverpool defender, who is one of four right-backs in Southgate’s squad, pulled up as full time approached and was close to tears as he walked around the pitch.

England, who will take on Romania in another warm-up game on Sunday, have six players on their stand-by list. Jesse Lingard, Ollie Watkins, Ben White, James Ward-Prowse and Ben Godfrey are the outfield players who could benefit from Alexander-Arnold pulling out.

“We’ll have to assess him over the next 24 to 48 hours,” Southgate said. “The medical team are still assessing it. We just have to see. It’s not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did. Let’s see how Trent is first and then we’ll go there. We don’t know the full extent. Clearly it’s not a good sign he looked in some discomfort.”

Player ratings

England Pickford (7), Alexander-Arnold (6), Coady (5), Mings (6), Trippier (6), Rice (5), Bellingham (7), Saka (8), Grealish (8), Lingard (6), Kane (6)

Subs: Calvert-Lewin (6), Ward-Prowse (5), Watkins (5), Godfrey (4), White (6)

Man of the match: Bukayo Saka.

England manager Gareth Southgate speaking to ITV: “I thought we started very well. We used the ball well in the first hour or so. We were playing against a very good side. They have good players. They get in between the lines well.

“The first hour was good in terms of quality. After that we needed to make a lot of changes and preserve people. We got a bid disjointed and people had cramp. We were hanging on at the end. It was understandable given the changes.

“Jack Grealish showed some lovely touches. You can see he’s still getting to full fitness – with the bursts you know he can make. He’s a quality player.”


– Austria have lost consecutive matches for the first time since losing to Poland and Israel in March 2019.

– Aged 19, Bukayo Saka became the third teenager to score for England while playing for Premier League outfit Arsenal, along with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

– Jude Bellingham became the youngest player to start a game for England (17 years and 338 days) since Wayne Rooney in September 2003 vs Liechtenstein (17 years and 321 days).

– England have not lost any of their last 19 matches when an Arsenal player has scored (W17 D2) since Francis Jeffers scored in a 3-1 home defeat by Australia in February 2003.

– Saka was the 33rd different player to score a goal for England under Gareth Southgate, one more than scored for the Three Lions under Sir Bobby Robson and the most since 39 scored under Sir Alf Ramsey.

– Ben White became the fifth Brighton player to play for England after Tommy Cook, Peter Ward, Steve Foster and Lewis Dunk. England have won all seven matches when Brighton players have featured, the best 100%-win record when players from a club represent the England national team.

Fans reacted as Gareth Southgate sends message to fans who booed players taking the knee…

@kevinvanhughff: I agree with Gareth why boo don’t get it

@Darthvilla90: Don’t think they are booing because of the reason they are taking a knee. I think they are booing the action of taking the knee. I do think people are in for a big shock when stadiums are full again.

@DagsJT: Apparently I’ve been told they’re booing because it’s a pointless gesture. So … why boo? Just don’t applaud if you don’t want to? But booing sends a very clear signal to me.

@RookeryMike: The booing of taking a knee is absolutely baffling to me. Cannot get my head round if at all. Extraordinary.

@SMcgoom: I personally feel embarrassed when I hear booing of players for taking the knee. But I do think it’s a diss at BLM and not against racial equality, I can’t remember many booing “Kick it Out”, but of course you will get some racists booing because they’re racist.

@Craig82Scott: Not only that but Middlesbrough as a club chose (with their black players) that taking the knee was not the answer as it was linked to the BLM organisation and decided to move more towards working harder in local communities. Southgate is wrong here IMO

@oleo3: Surely it’s time for taking the knee to stop, it’s like the clapping for the NHS. The impact has gone it’s time to take the next step in the fight against racism.

@ManOfKent17: Irrespective if you are a footballer or a fan, everyone is allowed to peacefully protest in their own way, that includes booing. People are not booing the black players, they are booing support for a Marxist group (BLM) & people are fed up of being told what to do & think.

@veness_phil: Dunno why it bothers people. It’s a one minute gesture. If you don’t like it, just whip your phone out and go on that for a minute, till it’s over. No need to boo really.

@Martyns5: Those England fans that booed are too thick and too bigoted to realise what the gesture is trying to convey. Made me ashamed to be standing among them.

@Boofy89: Would love Kane or Southgate to come out in post-match interview and request that anyone intending on booing to not bother attending any games.

@RyanMac97158556: As long as it’s called Black Lives Matter, people will associate it with the political movement. It’s inevitable that people boo, especially in football grounds where the odd person is lacking a few braincells.

@AinsleyMUFC: They fully understand the message. They’re just racist.

@Coops_Colin: Every football match for a year and nothing has changed, if anything it’s made it worse. Play football and support the Kick it Out campaign. Taking the knee at every single game is achieving nothing.

@upthesaints: Oh we do, but its been hammered to a farce and is a submissive act that changes nothing.

@robhunterhkr: I think these patronising comments are part of the reason people are booing. Sick of been told what to do, what to like and if you don’t agree you need ‘educating’. Funny how nobody had any issue with the kick it out campaign. Maybe it’s Gareth who doesn’t understand

@Mikeweeiner: Take a stand against the world cup in Qatar, take a stand for gay rights in the middle-east, take a stand against white farmers being tortured and killed in Africa, take a stand for human rights in China, take a stand against women not being allowed into stadiums in middle-east

@Liam_McGarry: Sign of where things are at in the UK. Everyone feels like they have to be on one side of the argument, even if there’s no argument to be had.

@JRLAFC1886: “Some people” aren’t understanding the message from the fans! They don’t want politics brought into their game in the manner of left wing Marxist ideology. Wilfred Zaha doesn’t believe the knee is working. Is he getting criticised? Keep politics out of sport. You’re there to play

@AgmnoKJ98: It’s like Zaha said, the kneeling lost its meaning a while ago…

@Ansum_wozelike: We live in a society where you are allowed to disagree with a political statement, taking the knee is token gesturing, fans have a right to boo whatever they want. Football authorities have said all along players get fined for political statements, once you start enforcing…

@PeterCosten: A new, different visual message is needed. If it can be decoupled from the BLM organisation (as opposed to the message) then it will regain near universal support. We’re supposed to be uniting in defeating racism, not causing further division.

As Gareth Southgate sends a message to fans who booed players taking the knee, what did you make of it all? Let us know via our socials!

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