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6 Jun, 2021 18:15

‘People pay money to watch football, not virtue-signaling’: England fans defend boos as jeers ring out at Riverside again (VIDEO)

‘People pay money to watch football, not virtue-signaling’: England fans defend boos as jeers ring out at Riverside again (VIDEO)

For the second time inside a week, England's footballers have been booed by fans inside Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium for taking a knee prior to kick off – despite boss Gareth Southgate's pleas for fans to respect the gesture.

A section of England supporters defied Southgate's call for silence during the pre-match protest ahead of Sunday's international friendly with Romania, with audible booing heard in several sections of the stadium in England's north-east.

Footballers in England have taken a knee in almost every game this season as part of a wave of 'Black Lives Matter' protests which were popularized following the killing of George Floyd in the US last year.

However, since stadiums were recently opened up, there has been a growing disquiet about the practice, which looks to have hit boiling point within English football this week. 

The England players, who had stated this week that they were entirely united in their desire to take a knee ahead of games throughout the European Championships, even appeared to kneel down for longer than they had in the past – apparently in an act of defiance against their own supporters. 

Southgate has also indicated that he fully supports the players' decision to take a knee, and outlined during the week that his team was "collectively disappointed" at the reception they received at the Riverside ahead of Wednesday's game with Austria. 

"We can't control the response but we're very clear on our stance, we're totally with the players," said Southgate. "We're united with the staff and the playing group. We hope to unite people through that."

Reports prior to kick-off also said that Romania had also agreed to take a knee before the game for the first time. When the moment came, two of their players remained standing.

Ex-England striker Ian Wright, who has been a victim of racial abuse online, praised Southgate and his players for refusing to budge in their stance and said that the excuses being used by those who choose to boo were "disingenuous". 

"Gareth and the team – you have to express their values. I'm very proud of Gareth," said Wright during television coverage before the game.

"They're taking the knee to highlight the injustice. It's a symbolic gesture. The excuses they [booing fans] are using for why they're booing are disingenuous."

Also on rt.com Football boo boys ‘don’t understand’ the message behind taking a knee, claims England boss Southgate

That was a sentiment to which another former England forward, Gary Lineker, also subscribes.

"If you boo England players for taking the knee, you're part of the reason why they're taking the knee," he wrote on Twitter.

Lineker's statement received some significant pushback.

"No they are not," one fan answered. "Just rewind to where taking the knee comes from and that's why. People pay money to watch football, not be virtue signaled by people like you."

"Utter rubbish," added another. "I’m against taking the knee as I’m against #BlackLivesMatter saying they want to defund the police, abolish capitalism and attack the nuclear family. Plus, they attempted to register as a political party. No room for politics in sport."

Also on rt.com ‘Fans are sick of being preached to’: Politicians slam kneeling England footballers, plan boycott over ‘ridiculous empty gesture’