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Pathetic England fans who boo the knee clearly ignored Gareth Southgate’s defiant message – Andy Dunn

Fittingly, there is an element of the naughty child about some of those who boo England players when they take the knee.

Asked not to do something, they decide to do it, be a bit rebellious.

Gareth Southgate clearly explains why his footballers are making the gesture ahead of a match and asks for respect but a sizeable group of people decide to show disrespect to Marcus Rashford and his teammates.

It is suitably pathetic.

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There are those, though, who believe they are right to jeer when England players show they think there is more to be done in the battle for greater racial equality.

And that is more worrying than those who, bizarrely, probably think this whole thing is some sort of pantomime.

England players continue to take the knee
England players continue to take the knee

Think about this. The fans who again jeered are at the heart of England’s fanbase.

Tickets for these two warm-up games were restricted to members of the official England supporters club.

Those who boo will be back, probably in greater numbers, for England’s opening game against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

Unless those who don’t like England players expressing their desire for less discrimination in their sport have a sudden change of heart, the jeering will echo around the country’s national football stadium, louder than it was here, no doubt.

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And let’s face it, if it happened on a foreign field ahead of a match in which England were playing, we would probably be asking what UEFA were going to do about it.

Sections of the crowed jeered the gesture
Sections of the crowed jeered the gesture

After Southgate’s eve-of-match eloquent explanation of exactly why they will be taking a knee throughout the Euros, the issue is now a fundamentally clear one.

As undertaken by this England squad, this gesture is a symbol of their continuing battle against racial inequality.

Jeer them and you jeer that.

I remember, after his debut in Sofia in 2019, Tyrone Mings speaking so well about the racism in the crowd that had horribly blighted his first game for England.

Here, he demonstrated his commitment to anti-racism and was vilified by his own supporters.

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It is barely believable, as is the fact that those jeering were jeering Rashford on one of his proudest days in football – a day when he captained his country.

Rashford is not just one of those at the forefront of the quest for equality but is tireless in his support of society’s neediest.

Before he starts his first game as England captain, he is booed by those who should be encouraging him.

And then he has to talk about it afterwards.

Rashford and his colleagues will, of course, rise above it, their focus unaffected by the loud minority.

Which, from a football point of view, is essential if you care to read anything into this performance from a team composed mainly of fringe players.

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Jack Grealish got more useful minutes under his belt, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White put their names forward as possible replacements for Trent Alexander-Arnold in reasonable style.

But it will be a very different England that lines up against Croatia at Wembley at two o’clock on Sunday.

It will be a very different England that lines up against Croatia and tries to do their country proud.

Sadly, the same characters who think jeering their own players is the right thing to do will also be there.

Letting down their country.

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