Three Lions fans defied the wishes of Gareth Southgate and once again booed the team for kneeling before kick off against Romania on Sunday.
Footballers have taken to kneeling before every game for the past year in a defiant message against racism in all walks of life, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
Rio Ferdinand has blasted the ‘ignorant’ England fans who continue to boo their own players
Boos rang out at the Riverside Stadium as stars knelt against racism in all walks of life
However, the return of supporters to football grounds has seen the message opposed by some fans in the stands, and despite Southgate calling for fans to respect the players’ gesture, some chose to boo as Marcus Rashford & Co took the knee moments before kick off at the Riverside Stadium.
The kneeling gesture is also used by the Black Lives Matter organisation, and those against kneeling claim that the stance has political connotations.
And former England defender Ferdinand, who was racially abused at Molineux for Wolves vs. Manchester United in the Premier League, has called on supporters to get behind the team ahead of the European Championship.
‘These fans, these ignorant people that are going to these games haven’t got a clue,’ he said on his podcast Vibe With Five. ‘They don’t know what the players are kneeling for.
Dissenting voices claim that kneeling has political connotations associated with the Black Lives Matter organisation
But Ferdinand insists the stance is not political and fans should get behind their own players
‘They are kneeling for injustice, they are kneeling for… to make sure certain situations are going to be remembered and highlighted and dealt with in the proper way.
‘It is not a political stance. All these ignorant people who are going “it is political, the BLM is a political movement” it is nothing to do with that, so take that out of your mind.
‘It is not political. The players, the England manager has done press conferences, they have done adverts that are telling you “this is not a political campaign, the reason why we kneel is nothing to do with politics”. So it is nothing to do with that.
‘This stance is about anti-racism, people being treated the right way and respectfully and not for the colour of their skin. There is no valid reason anyone can give me for booing.
Ferdinand added that manager Gareth Southgate and his players have made it clear that the gesture is not political and is adopted to highlight racial and social injustice
‘They are meant to be here helping our team. They are meant to be wanting to push our team along. The players’ narrative around this kneel is nothing to do with politics so please just support this team.
‘Support these players. They don’t want injustice, they don’t want people to be judged on the basis of the colour of their skin and they are kneeling because of that, so why are you booing? Please, I don’t understand it.’
Southgate said before kick off on Sunday that the team will remain steadfast on their stance and hope to unite the country moving forwards
‘We can’t control the response but we’re very clear on our stance, we’re totally with the players,’ he told ITV Sport. ‘We’re united with the staff and the playing group. We hope to unite people through that.’
Reflecting on the most recent episode of booing, ITV pundit Ian Wright remains adamant that those opposing kneeling can still be educated on the subject.
‘You focus on the game but you’re still explaining it and they’re still booing. You’ve got to still try and reach those people,’ he said at half time.