The stadium was filled with boos before England’s friendly match against Austria as the English players took a knee at Riverside Stadium. Southgate said at the time “some people aren’t understanding the message”.
England faces Romania on Sunday in their final warm-up game before their tilt at the European Championship begins. The Three Lions are again back at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium having beaten Austria there on Wednesday evening.
There were audible jeers when England’s players took the knee ahead of Austria’s win, with boss Gareth Southgate saying after the game that the team may reconsider how best to tackle racism and inequality.
It was the first time an England side have made the anti-racism stance in front of a home crowd and there will be plenty of attention on whether they repeat the move on Sunday.
If they do continue to take the knee, the reaction from the crowd will also be noted ahead of what is essentially a home European Championship campaign.
Jesse Lingard’s omission from the England squad raised many eyebrows. James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins were also controversial absentees. The gaffer was heavily scrutinized for ignoring the above names and naming up to four players for the right-back spot. The players are Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Reece James.
Moreover, reflecting on the last friendly match against Austria, their level of performance still leaves a lot to be desired. Although they grabbed the winner courtesy of a Bukayo Saka strike, they really needed to raise their game to match Europe’s finest. The likes of France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain and Croatia won’t be easy to crack.