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England could reconsider taking the knee after boos – Southgate

Gareth Southgate has suggested England could reconsider taking the knee before matches after the gesture was booed at Wednesday’s friendly against Austria.

Sections of the 8,000-strong crowd at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium booed loudly as both sets of players performed the anti-discrimination gesture on the pitch before kick-off.

The jeers were quickly met with applause from elsewhere but it was an uncomfortable response to the first time England have taken the knee in front of a home crowd.

England will return to the Riverside for Sunday’s second Euro 2020 warm-up match against Romania and Southgate says he will discuss a response with the squad, which may result in a new approach going forward.

“What has happened tonight probably means I need to have another conversation with the players first and foremost because I need see how they feel about it and that’s an important discussion for us to have,” the England manager said after the 1-0 win.

“I know there was some concern in the past in March that we were losing some of the impact, so I think after what has happened tonight we need to consider whether we continue to do the same thing, whether we do something different and I’m sure the players will have a really good view on that.”

There was some booing of taking the knee at a number of Premier League grounds for the final two rounds of fixtures this season.

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In a separate post-match interview, Southgate said the response on Teeside felt like a criticism of England’s black players and believes the gesture is misunderstood.

“It’s not something on behalf of our black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it is a criticism of them,” he said.

“I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it is a political stand that they don’t agree with. That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We are supporting each other.”

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