Footballers took the knee throughout the Euro 2020 competition but in the wake of racist abuse against members of the team, attention has once again turned to the symbolic gesture.

Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all received discriminatory abuse following Sunday’s final against Italy, after they all missed penalties.

Yesterday, England footballer Tyrone Mings accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of pretending to be disgusted by racist abuse aimed at the squad.

Mings wrote: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘gesture politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

His post was in response to Patel’s own tweet where she described the her 'disgust' at the 'vile racist abuse' faced by black England team members.  

Speaking to GB News in June, Patel described taking the knee as 'gesture politics' and when asked if fans had the right to boo she said 'that's a choice for them, quite frankly'.

What is ‘taking the knee’?

The act of taking the knee, where the person kneels on one knee, is a symbolic gesture against racism

It first came to prominent attention in the NFL (National Football League) when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the US national anthem.

Kaepernick and his teammate Eric Reid choose to kneel during the anthem to call attention to issues of racial inequality and police brutality. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Reid said they chose to kneel as a 'peaceful protest'.

Following this, many athletes around the world joined in by kneeling during their own national anthems and before sports events kicked off, to support the causes Kaepernick was raising awareness about.  

After the murder of George Floyd by a US police officer, Black Lives Matter protesters kneeled during protests as a unified, symbolic gesture against racism.


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Taking the knee also used by many football clubs before kick off throughout the 2020-21 football season as a way to raise attention about racism, which was booed by some fans.

Tony Burnett, chief executive of football’s equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, told Sky Sports “We'd like to see a situation where the boos are continually drowned out by applause and right-minded good people send a real message to those who just want to perpetuate poison”.

England players took the knee through the Euro 2020 competition which comes as Marcus Rashford was revealed by Pickwise to be the second most abused athlete online, behind LeBron James.