'Don't stoke fire then pretend to be disgusted': Mings blasts Patel over racism response

13 July 2021, 06:05 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 15:58

Tyrone Mings hit out at the home secretary over her response to racial abuse
Tyrone Mings hit out at the home secretary over her response to racial abuse. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

England defender Tyrone Mings has blasted Priti Patel for her condemnation of racial abuse after she previously called players taking the knee "gesture politics".

Fellow footballers, politicians and public figures have come out in support of members of the national team - namely Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka - after they suffered racial abuse on social media following their Euro 2020 final defeat.

The home secretary branded the comments "vile" and took to Twitter to denounce all those who were responsible.

She wrote: "I am disgusted that @England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.

"It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable."

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However, England star Mings used social media to respond to Ms Patel's comments, accusing her of stoking the fire after she previously refused to condemn fans who booed the team for taking the knee in protest against racial injustice.

He said: "You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as 'Gesture Politics' & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we're campaigning against, happens."

Ms Patel has not yet replied to or commented on his tweet.

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But Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View Johnny Mercer, a former defence minister, did react to Mings' tweet, saying: "The painful truth is that this guy is completely right. Very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into.

"Do I fight it or stay silent? Modern Conservatism was always so much more to me. We must not lose our way."

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell also weighed in, taking to Twitter to tell Mings to "focus on football, not politics".

He wrote: "We are all proud of our England team, who have had the support of the whole country over recent weeks, but please focus of football, not politics.

"If you win for England, you win for everyone!"

Last month, the home secretary called taking the knee "gesture politics" after Gareth Southgate's side faced jeers from a minority of fans at their first match of Euro 2020.

The symbol of anti-racism solidarity gained attention in American Football in 2016 as players protested against police brutality and racism in the US.

The act has since spread further and was adopted by footballers in the UK, partly to demonstrate that racism should not be tolerated in the sport.

Asked about taking the knee, Ms Patel told the press: "I just don't support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well."

On whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: "That's a choice for them, quite frankly."

Former Tory Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi also criticised the home secretary after her tweet, suggesting she and the government were guilty of "dog whistle" politics.

"It's time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division," the Conservative peer tweeted.

"Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations."