UK's Patel criticises England footballers for taking the knee

UK's Patel criticises England footballers for taking the knee
2 min read
15 June, 2021
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has a controversial history on race issues.
England footballers have taken the knee before games [Getty]

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she does not support England footballers taking the knee before games to protest against racism and fans have a right to boo them for it. 

Patel called the act "gesture politics" and said it was people's "choice" whether to support the anti-racism gesture, she told GB News on Monday. 

She refused to comment on whether she would boo the gesture at a football match, following recent protests at England friendlies.

She said: "I've not gone to a football match to even contemplate that."

England football players will take the knee before games at UEFA Euro 2020 as an act of solidarity against racism and discrimination.

The gesture is often associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and has been defended by the Football Association and England manager Gareth Southgate. 

Patel told the new right-wing channel: "It's all well to support a cause and make your voices heard.  but actually... we saw last year in particular with some of the protests that took place, I speak now very much from what I saw and the impact on policing. It was devastating." 

She also commented on protesters' removal of Edward Colston’s statue during protests in Bristol last year: "I don't subscribe to this view that we should be rewriting our history." 

Patel’s criticism follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson's public condemnation of booing against the England Football team, telling the BBC on Friday that it was "totally wrong". This follows criticism that earlier comments by the PM that appeared to condone the booing. 

Labour MP David Lammy wrote on Twitter on Monday that "Priti Patel defending those who boo is a shocking attempt to stir up division". 

Before England’s first Euro game against Croatia on Sunday, fans at Wembley drowned out the boos with applause.