Tory MP to boycott Euro 2020 final over players taking the knee

8 July 2021, 16:24 | Updated: 9 July 2021, 10:17

Tory MP to continue England boycott over players taking the knee

By Will Taylor

Tory MP Lee Anderson is continuing boycotting England games over players taking the knee and told LBC he will be unpacking boxes instead of watching the final.

He has taken issue with the pre-match anti-racism gesture because of its perceived connection to Black Lives Matter and refused to watch their games.

Speaking to LBC, the Ashfield MP said he will carry on with the boycott, despite Gareth Southgate's side making their first major international final since the 1966 World Cup – and only their second in history.

Instead, he will check his phone for updates and cheer them on without having the momentous final on TV.

Asked what he will do on Sunday instead of watching, he told LBC: "We've just moved house. I've got plenty of work to do in my house over the weekend, lots of boxes to unpack, plenty to be getting on with… I will be supporting the team, I want them to win, I wish them all the best.

"I hope we bring it home. I've never seen England in a final in my lifetime… fair play to them, they've had a great tournament.

"They've got a great set of young players, a great manager, and I think we're going to do it."

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Lee Anderson: Why weren't sports people taking the knee two years ago

England players continue to take the knee before the game, a gesture that was also carried out before matches in the Premier League as a symbol against racism.

Gareth Southgate had to intervene before the tournament and explain why players made the gesture after his players were booed while doing it.

Some online even branding the gesture "Marxist". It has received a much more positive reception during the Euros.

England had never been to the final of the European Championship but on Wednesday they beat Denmark 2-1 to advance to play Italy for the trophy.

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Fans were filmed taking to the streets en masse to revel in the historic moment, and crowds at Wembley sang "Sweet Caroline" with the team.

But the joyous scenes embraced by millions across England have done nothing to change Mr Anderson's mind.

He insisted he does want to watch the game, and that this is the first time in his life he has not watched England.

James O'Brien clashes with caller on the booing of players taking knee

"I'm a bit lucky for them at the moment by not watching them," Mr Anderson suggested.

"I took a decision - and not just football, any sporting event where the competitors or players before the event take the knee, I couldn't support it because I see it as a divisive symbol.

"I see it as associated with Black Lives Matter, whether the players think that or not that's up to them, I've got no beef with the players really at all.

"I think they're being probably poorly advised, but I would say to people that if taking the knee is such a symbol of fighting racism in sport or in society, then why weren't the England team doing this two years ago?

"If they would have been doing this two years ago, before Black Lives Matter came to the fore, then I would be the first person to be taking the knee with them.

"But it grates a little bit with me that BLM are getting all this exposure through what I see as them being promoted through taking the knee.

"They may say that they don't mean it that way and they may not, but I have my choice."