Jack Grealish was convinced that the England’s players disliked hearing the fans at Middlesbrough booing at them for taking a knee before the warm-up friendly against Austria on Wednesday.
Boos were heard from some sections of the fans as players from both teams took a knee before kicking off at the Riverside stadium in Middlesbrough. Bukayo Saka’s second half strike saw Gareth Southgate’s side clinch a 1-0 victory against Austria in the friendly, but a few English players and their manager as well seemed displeased with some fans decision to boo at them while taking the knee against racism before the match, as loud jeers were audible from some section of the 7000 strong crowd.
England players displeased at fans decision to boo them while taking a stand against racism
Gareth Southgate and his players condemned the section of fans who booed and jeered the players as they took a knee against racism ahead of the kickoff of England’s first Euro 2020 warm-up match against Austria.
It was the first time that the English players have taken the knee in front of the home crowd after discussion were held previously in March over whether the players wanted to continue making the gesture or not. However, they were received with loud jeers and boos as they took the knee which largely displeased the players on the pitch.
England manager Gareth Southgate was particularly displeased by the fans act as he took to the press to condemn the same; “I did hear it. It’s not something on behalf of our Black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them.” said Southgate.
“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. So, I was pleased that was drowned out by the majority of the crowd, but we can’t deny the fact that it happened.”
“I think the most important thing for our players to know is that all their team-mates, all the staff, are fully supportive. I think the majority of people understand it. I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message, and I suppose we are seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.” Southgate further added.
Jack Grealish was one the standout player for England last evening but he was also of the same opinion as his coach, admitting that had heard the noises from the fans and ‘did not like it at all’.
“I obviously was aware of it. I heard it and I didn’t like it at all. None of the players liked it.”
“I think that will get talked about in the next few days. It’s a thing we don’t want in football in general and especially in our games.” Grealish told Sky Sports after the match.
Bukayo Saka, who scored the sole goal of the match to hand his side the win, was similarly taken aback by the fans act. “I don’t understand why they did it,” Saka stated. “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 will play their second and final warm-up game against Romania on Sunday and then will kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia on Sunday June 13, as they hope that this act is not repeated by the fans in England any further.