ANTI-RACISM KNEE GESTURE CASTS CONTROVERSY OVER EUROS

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Football’s European Championship kicks off today (Fri) with the 24 teams’ battle for glory accompanied by off-field conflict over the anti-racism gesture of “taking the knee”.

England were booed by some of their fans in two friendlies while Ireland were jeered in Hungary for kneeling before kickoff in a move borrowed from American NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and popularized by the Black Lives Matter movement.

France, one of the tournament favourites, have taken the knee in recent games as have Belgium, Wales and Finland, so the gesture may feature prominently during Euro 2020.

Moving away from its long-standing stance of opposing political protests, governing body UEFA says it is up to each team to decide and simply inform the referee in advance.

Though broadly supported by most fans in Western Europe, according to a survey, some reject the symbol as too overtly political and allied with far-left movements.