England fans urged to 'drown out the boos' in new Kick It Out and Football Supporters' Association campaign

Players were once again booed for taking a knee against Romania; FA is also working on a video message to encourage fans to get behind the team on and off the pitch; former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand labels supporters who boo as "ignorant"

England's Jadon Sancho takes a knee prior to kick-off against Romania
Image: England's players were once again booed for taking a knee ahead of the game against Romania

Fans are being urged to 'drown out the boos' at Wembley in a new Kick It Out and Football Supporters' Association initiative as England begin their Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday.

It comes after England boss Gareth Southgate's pleas to respect the anti-discrimination gesture were once again ignored by a small section of fans during the side's final Euro 2020 warm-up game against Romania.

Southgate and his players remain defiant they will continue to take a knee and once again reiterated it is a show of unity in the fight against racial discrimination and social injustice and not politically motivated.

England's Jack Grealish is seen taking a knee ahead of the friendly against Romania 2:55
The booing of England players taking a knee is by people who 'just want to perpetuate poison', says Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett

The FA is also working on a new video message for supporters which will coincide with the tournament kick-off, encouraging fans to get behind the team on and off the pitch.

The governing body is desperate to avoid further scenes of dissent from the crowd, which officials feel is both embarrassing to a global audience and negative to the team's chances.

Campaign options being considered include asking fans to chant "Kick it out" or "England, England!" at the moment when the referee blows his whistle and the players bend down.

While there are concerns this may be seen by some as an attempt to mask the problem rather than confront it, it is seen as a pragmatic response to a complex issue for the duration of the tournament.

Officials believe it would be very difficult for any fans to boo, if the "England" chant is so overtly in support of the team.

The option of "Kick it out" as an alternative chant is seen as a positive way to enforce the anti-discrimination message that Southgate and the players have said they are motivated by when they take a knee.

CJ Joiner from the England supporter group, Block 109, disagrees with fans who booed players taking the knee - but doesn't think anyone found to be booing should be banned from attending matches

Rio Ferdinand: Fans who boo are ignorant

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has condemned the booing, telling the small minority to take any thoughts it is motivated by a political movement "out of your mind".

"These fans, these ignorant people that are going to games, haven't got a clue - they don't know what these players are kneeling for," Ferdinand said on the FIVE podcast.

"They are kneeling for injustice, to make sure certain situations are going to be highlighted and dealt with properly.

"It's not a political stance and all these ignorant people who are saying it's a political movement - take that out of your mind.

"The players, the England manager - they've done press conferences and adverts telling you this is not a political campaign - the reason for kneeling has nothing to do with politics.

"The stance is about anti-racism, people being treated the right way and respectfully and not because of the colour of their skin.

"There is no valid reason for booing - the players' narrative is nothing to do with politics so please, support the team because they don't want injustice or want people to be judged on the basis of someone's skin and they are kneeling because of that."

preview image 0:39
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson says he loves what taking the knee stands for in the fight against racism.

'Taking injured players a gamble for Southgate'

With England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia just days away, Gareth Southgate has a number of fitness concerns over several key players in his squad.

The England boss has already seen Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold withdraw from his final 26-man squad with a thigh injury, while doubts remain over Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire.

Ferdinand believes Southgate should not risk the side's chances of lifting a first major trophy since 1966 on players who may not be firing on all cylinders.

"It happened with Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen - history tells you if you take players who are carrying injuries into a tournament, rushed back, it doesn't work," Ferdinand told the FIVE podcast.

"Jordan Henderson hasn't played since February, it takes you a minimum of five or six games to get match fit.

"Then you move onto (Harry) Maguire, by the time you reach the end of group stages it's probably seven or eight weeks since he's kicked a ball.

"Tell me how someone like him is going to get fit? He's going to need three or four games to get fit. Are we going to go into a knock-out game with him 50-60 per cent fit?"

Kick It Out reporting racism

Online Reporting Form | Kick It Out

Kick It Out is football's equality and inclusion organisation - working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.


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