What has the Prime Minister said about the booing of England players?

14 July 2021

“Does he now regret failing to condemn those who booed England players for standing up to racism?”

We made it absolutely clear that no one should boo the England team

People have different opinions about the England football team’s decision to take the knee to oppose racism before matches this summer. Some England fans have booed as it was happening, while others remained silent, or applauded.

After racist abuse was directed at members of the England team when they lost the Euro 2020 final, the Prime Minister was accused by Labour leader Keir Starmer during Prime Minister’s Questions of not condemning those who booed the players before.

Mr Starmer also mentioned comments by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, who called taking the knee “gesture politics”.

However, Boris Johnson responded by saying: “we made it absolutely clear that no one should boo the England team”.

We take a look at what was said by Mr Johnson and Ms Patel.

7 June

When asked about booing of the knee at the Romania match the day before, the Guardian reported the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson as saying: “[The Prime Minister] fully respects the right of those who choose to peacefully protest and make their feelings known.”

In the same interview, the spokesperson said: “On taking the knee, specifically, the Prime Minister is more focused on action rather than gestures.” 

11 June

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson was widely reported as saying: “The Prime Minister wants to see everybody getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”

12 June

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg reported on Twitter: “PM said it was ‘totally wrong’ for fans to boo national teams, but he wouldn’t condemn fans who have booed players for taking the knee.”

And other reports said Mr Johnson told Channel 5: “What I certainly don’t think you should do is boo the England team… I disapprove of people booing the England team. I see no reason to do that.”

13 June

During a G7 summit press conference Mr Johnson said: “Everybody should cheer for England,” although he did not condemn people who booed or say whether he would take the knee himself.

14 June

Ms Patel told GB News, when asked about the England football team taking the knee: “I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture politics, to a certain extent.”

In the same interview, when asked if England fans were right to boo, Ms Patel said: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”

When asked if she would boo, she also said: “I’ve not gone to a football match to even contemplate that.”

3 July

When asked if he would take the knee on LBC, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t believe in gestures, I believe in substance.”

 

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