The England players were tonight greeted with a cacophony of boos and cheers as they took the knee before kick-off in the quarter finals of Euro 2020.
Ukraine by contrast stayed on their feet as England continued with the Black Lives Matter gesture which has been a constant throughout the tournament despite anger from fans.
A mixture of cheers, boos and whistles reverberated around the Stadio Olimpico in Rome as the England team once again knelt down on the pitch ahead of their quarter final clash.
Some speculated online that the crowd could have been booing Ukraine for not kneeling, but boos have thundered from Three Lions fans at every game thus far, irrespective of whether or not the opposition has joined England in kneeling.
The disapproval for the gesture comes despite the repeated please of manager Gareth Southgate and the Football Association for the fans to get behind the players and respect their wish to make a statement.
A mixture of cheers, boos and whistles reverberated around the Stadio Olimpico in Rome as the England team once again knelt down on the pitch ahead of their quarter final clash while the Ukrainians remained standing
Some speculated online that the crowd could have been booing the Ukrainians for not kneeling, but boos have thundered from Three Lions fans at every game thus far, irrespective of whether or not the opposition has joined England in kneeling
Reaction to the kneeling was as divided as ever, with some fans praising the players who they said did their country proud, while others said it had so infuriated them they were going to switch the game off and watch Netflix instead.
Lee Bee, who goes by ‘Anti-woke Bloke’, tweeted: ‘Ukraine stand tall and proud – England booed as they take the knee.
‘Netflix it is then!
‘They were doing so well with the National Anthem – until they f***ed it all up kneeling for racist BLM who hate white people/Police – I can’t watch them until they stop the nonsense.’
But Lowri Ann, writing after England took an early lead, wrote: ‘I have to give it to the England players, they get booed by their “fans” then give them goals like that. Embarassing.’
Another user called Sly said: ‘Big respect to England for continuing to take the knee.’
England had already made it clear they intended to take a knee before every one of their matches at the Euros and a video and statement released on the eve of their first game urged fans to support them.
The statement insisted that taking a knee isn’t political and isn’t linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, but is simply a stand against discrimination in all its forms.
The FA statement read: ‘Tomorrow, our England senior men’s team will begin their EURO 2020 campaign at hour home, Wembley Stadium. Major tournaments don’t come around often and when they do, it’s an opportunity to unite friends, family and the country.
‘This collective support is what spurs our team on during challenging moments and it gives them the best chance of succeeding. As the team has reiterated many times, they will collectively take the knee ahead of their fixtures during the tournament.
Kalvin Phillips and John Stones of England take knee ahead of the quarter final clash in Rome
The England players kneel while the Ukrainians stand ahead of their quarter final clash
‘They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice and inequality. This is personally important to the player and the values the team collectively represents.
‘This gesture of unity and fighting against inequality can be traced back as far as the 18th century. It is not new, and English football has made it very clear that it does not view this as being aligned to a political organisation or ideology.
‘There can be no doubt as to why the players are taking a knee and what it represents in a footballing context. We encourage those who oppose these values to reflect on the message you are sending to the players you are supporting.
‘Please respect their wishes and remember that we should all be united in the fight to tackle discrimination. Together.’