England Players Booed for Kneeling During Anthem Despite Plea for Support

Anthem Kneeling
AP Photo/Frank Augstein

British fans erupted in boos when their players took a knee during their national anthem as the European Championship game against Croatia kicked off on Sunday.

Some fans applauded the players for protesting against their country, but the boos were loud and clear despite pleas from the team for fans to respect the players’ decision to protest, the Associated Press reported.

Croatia’s players did not take a knee during the two national anthems ahead of a game Britain won 1-0.

The U.K.’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also voiced mild support for the British team’s decision to kneel. “Everybody should cheer for England,” Johnson said without directly mentioning the controversy. Johnson also refused to answer as to whether he explicitly supports kneeling during the anthem.

The English Football Association had announced that it would allow the protests.

“They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice and inequality,” the organization said of the protests in a statement. “This is personally important to the players 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 organization or ideology. There can be no doubt as to why the players are taking the knee and what it represents in a footballing context,” the statement added.

Some fans erupted in chants of “no surrender,” a phrase that harkens back to the “troubles” between Britain and the Irish Republic Army and the latter’s years of terror attacks.

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