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English FA plans video message in bid to end booing

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English FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has said the booing of England’s players for taking a knee is “incredibly disappointing”.

And he confirmed the governing body is considering releasing a video message in an attempt to tackle the crisis before the team’s opening Euro 2020 match.

The team were booed before two games last week as they made the gesture to highlight racial injustice.

In his first public comments on the controversy, Bullingham
told reporters: “We’ve been clear throughout, this is not a political gesture that the team is making.

“They are standing up for equality and they are using a gesture that’s been around for hundreds of years and using it just to make a stance against racism.

“We’re not asking every fan to copy that gesture.

We’re just asking them to respect it, and we do expect that they should respect it.

They should get behind their team, cheer them on, and let’s have a brilliant Euros with the country getting behind the team.”

With mounting concerns England’s opener against Croatia on Sunday at Wembley could be overshadowed by a repeat of the booing, Bullingham confirmed the FA was “looking at what we can do on matchday, including videos in the stadium”.

He said: “Our general approach with anti-discrimination action is always focused on education, and we need to clarify, so every fan is 100% clear, this is not a political gesture. This is about equality, and we believe once they understand that they will get behind the team and cheer them on.”

When asked how the FA felt about the Prime Minister Boris Johnson refusing to condemn fans who booed players taking a knee this week, Bullingham said: “We’re really clear on our position.

“We are 100% behind the players, and we believe that once fans really understand it’s not a political gesture there is absolutely no reason for them to boo.

They should respect the players and get behind their team in the Euros.

“It’s definitely not a positive for the players, but we want to move on, get the team fully supported by the fans, get everyone behind them.”

Meanwhile, UEFA’s tournament director Martin Kallen has also given his support to England’s players. “I hope they will not be booed by the people,” he said.

“I think [England] want to make a signal, and we leave it up to the teams to do so.”

“Of course we are always for fair play… and from our side, it’s important that people are respecting other people’s minds.”

 

Vincent Paul

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