After last night's insipid 1-0 win over Austria, England manager Gareth Southgate had plenty to say – and not just about the football itself. Responding to fans who booed when the Three Lions' players 'took the knee' before the game, Southgate told journalists that 'we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with' adding that 'some people aren’t quite understanding the message.'
It seems the former Crystal Palace captain's words have not found favour with right-wing Tory MPs whose Common Sense anti-woke manifesto was published last month. New boy Brendan Clarke-Smith has today written a lengthy Facebook statement criticising the 'ridiculous empty gesture' of 'taking a knee' and taking aim at the 'misguided' football authorities for failing to realise that Black Lives Matter is a political movement which 'promotes some quite eccentric and extreme policies, such as abolishing the nuclear family and defunding the police.' He adds:
“To suggest that fans 'aren’t quite understanding the message', as Gareth Southgate has done, is an insult to their intelligence. Fans understand perfectly well - they are just sick and tired of being preached and spoken down to. They are there to watch a football match, not to be lectured on morality.
Similar messages have been posted by fellow 2019 intake members. Lee Anderson, a tough-talking former miner, warns that 'the FA, Premier League and footballers now run the risk of becoming like the Labour Party in 'having nothing in common with their traditional supporters.' He added that for the first time in his life he will not be watching his 'beloved' England team this summer while they remain committed to 'supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life.'
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt meanwhile contrasted England's footballers with their cricketing counterparts at yesterday's test against New Zealand at Lord's where an alternative anti-racism message was used, writing: 'shame the football players couldn't have taken this on board.'