Gary Neville has railed against Priti Patel after the Home Secretary posted a tweet to mark England’s resounding victory over Ukraine on Saturday night.
The Three Lions advanced to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 with a five-star performance at Stadio Olimpico, with Harry Kane scoring in either half and Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson nodding in from corners.
It was another display which exhibited the togetherness in Gareth Southgate’s squad, but fans and politicians have not shared that same unity at times during the tournament.
That’s because there have been disagreements over England players taking the knee before their fixtures, despite Southgate explaining it is simply an act in support of racial equality.
Before each of England’s group and last-16 matches, a minority of the Wembley crowd booed as players kneeled, although cheers and applause largely prevailed.
Patel is among those to criticise taking the knee and labelled it an act of “gesture politics” last month.
“It’s all well to support a cause and make your voices heard,” she told GB News . “But actually, quite frankly, and we saw last year in particular with some of the protests that took place, I speak now very much from what I saw in the impact on policing, it was devastating.
“Not only that, I just don’t subscribe to this view that we should be rewriting our history, pulling down statues, the famous [Edward] Colston statue, and what’s happened there [in Bristol].
“Toppling statues is not the answer; It’s about learning from our past, learning from our history and actually working together to drive the right outcomes.”
Asked if fans were within their rights to boo players taking the knee, Patel responded: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”
As such, Neville blasted Patel after she posted a tweet celebrating England’s triumph over Ukraine which said: “What a performance. What a team. #ItsComingHome.”
The former Three Lions right-back responded: “The cheek of you!” in a tweet which was liked over 44,000 times.
While Patel declared she cannot advocate “people participating in that type of gesture”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson supports taking the knee.
“The Prime Minister respects the right of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices,” said a Number 10 spokesperson.
“The Prime Minister wants to see everybody getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer said taking the knee is “a choice for each team”.
He added: “I profoundly don’t think you should boo your own team before kick-off.”