England Footballers Taking the Knee Engaged in ‘Gesture Politics’: UK Minister

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
June 14, 2021 Updated: June 14, 2021

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Monday that she does not support England footballers taking the knee ahead of Euro 2020 games, calling the act “gesture politics.”

The England team was booed by some fans in London’s Wembley Stadium on June 13 when players took the knee before kick-off in their match with Croatia in Euro 2020.

A Number 10 spokesman said before the match that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “wants to see everybody getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.” But the requests fell on deaf ears.

Epoch Times Photo
England’s manager Gareth Southgate (L) and Steve Holland, Assistant Coach of England, ‘take a knee’ ahead of the international friendly football match between England and Romania at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, north-east England on June 6, 2021. (Scott Heppell/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Patel appeared to have taken a different stance to Johnson. She told GB News: “I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics.”

Asked whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”

Patel also said the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer had a “devastating” impact on policing in the UK.

“It’s all well to support a cause and make your voices heard,” she said. “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.”

She criticised the BLM rioters who pulled down the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

“I just don’t subscribe to this view that we should be rewriting our history, pulling down statues, the famous Colston statue, and what’s happened there. 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.”

Patel was not the first British government minister to criticise England footballers taking the knee.

Education minister Gillian Keegan said on June 10 that the act is “divisive,” as it is an expression of support for the BLM movement.

“There are some Conservative MPs [that] are very much against it. Why? Because Black Lives Matter stands for things that they don’t stand for. It’s really about defunding the police and the overthrow of capitalism, which is, you know, Black Lives Matter the actual political organisation,” she told the BBC’s “Question Time” programme.

“And some people will take it and think that’s supporting Black Lives Matter. I’m sure Black Lives Matter will think it’s supporting them.”

Lily Zhou and PA contributed to this report.

Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang