England boss Gareth Southgate insists his squad ‘don’t want to give oxygen’ to those who choose to boo his players taking the knee during Euro 2020.
Around 7,000 fans were in attendance at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday to witness the first of two warm-up games played by Southgate’s men before the start of the upcoming European Championship.
Despite the 1-0 victory, much of the post-match discussion centred on the loud jeers which met the taking of the knee before the game.
It was the first time England have taken the knee in front of their home fans, yet the outcry after the game reflected the disappointment of many at the actions of the few.
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Faye Carruthers before the final friendly game against Romania, the Three Lions boss reiterated his stance on the matter and insisted the squad would not allow the minority to disrupt their preparations before the first group game against Croatia on June 13.
“Well only if we allow it and we are not prepared,” Southgate admitted about the impact on his players.
“We are totally together on taking that stance and we are accepting that if there is an adverse reaction, the support of the majority of the fans and the teammates is what we will focus on.
“We don’t want to give oxygen to people who ignore our message, no matter how many times we say it, because they are choosing not to.”
He added: “We are a country of freedom of speech, everybody is entitled to their opinion.
“If their show of that opinion might affect the performance of the team, then it is a strange stance to take.
“One minute they are being booed, then being cheered for making a goal or a tackle.
“We want everyone united behind the team and players want that discussion to be about football.
“They are tired of talking about it, they want to be judged as footballers and not just for talking about this area.
“We might be able to help support that change.”
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