Gareth Southgate last night promised that England’s defiant players will continue to take the knee during the Euros.
Southgate was sickened to hear his team booed when they showed their support to the fight against racism ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Austria at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
The Three Lions boss is braced for more dissent from the Wembley fans when England host Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in a tournament they have been installed as favourites to win.
But after meeting with senior players and then addressing the full squad, it was decided that England will continue to take the knee regardless of the consequences.
Southgate said: “We feel more than ever that we are determined to take the knee throughout this tournament.
“We accept that there might be an adverse reaction but we’re going to ignore that and move forward.
“I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players and how they must feel.
“If that was their children – if they’re old enough to have children – how would they feel about their kids being in that situation?
“The most important thing for our players is for them to know we are totally united on it.”
England return to Teesside on Sunday for their final warm-up game against Romania.
Southgate is determined that his players will not have their focus on the Euros disturbed by the debate whether taking the knee is a political gesture – or the reaction of fans to it.
He has hinted that he has told his squad not to be drawn on the issue should more problems arise.
Southgate said: “The only reason I called the meeting was because I wanted to be able to represent the players correctly when I speak about it.
“I was concerned that what happened could affect the young players in particular because it happened immediately before the kick-off.
“I’d have been confused. I don’t know how I would have reacted as a young player.
“In essence, people are booing their own team. I don’t really understand that.
“If you don’t agree with the situation then you don’t have to applaud or do anything.
“To boo your own team is a very strange response in my mind.”
He added: “The players have had enough really – and as far as I’m concerned they’re not going to take more questions on this through the tournament. If it happens, it happens.
“Their voices have been made loud and clear. They know the power of their voices. They know that they can make a difference.
“The fact that we are going to keep going is impactful.
“It saddens me that they are so hardened to it that they’re almost dismissive.
“That’s something that, in our country, we should all reflect on.”