Cheers drown out boos as England take the knee at Wembley

Football - Euro 2020 - Group D - England v Croatia - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - June 13, 2021 England's Kalvin Phillips takes the knee before the match Pool via REUTERS/Andy Rain
Cheers and applause quickly drowned out some boos as England players kneeled on Sunday in an anti-racism gesture at kick-off against Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener at Wembley.

England players were shocked by jeering at the gesture from a minority of fans in two friendlies prior to the tournament. Manager Gareth Southgate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and leading football figures had appealed for a stop to that.

Once again, there was some jeering from a small section as players briefly went down on one knee, but many others among the 25,000 crowd in a sun-kissed Wembley began applauding and cheering.

The gesture, borrowed from American NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and popularised by the Black Lives Matter movement last year, has generated off-field controversy around Europe in the build-up to the 24-nation Euros.

Critics view it as an unwanted politicization of sport and expression of sympathy with far-left politics.

But England players and other national teams also taking the knee say it is simply a show of solidarity against racial discrimination still prevalent in football and around the world.