Gareth Southgate: England boss welcomes Germany’s decision to take a knee in Nations League
England boss Gareth Southgate has welcomed Germany’s decision to take the knee before the two teams meet in the Nations League in Munich on Tuesday.
“We’re two nations with huge numbers of mixed heritage nationals and I think it’s an important sign for everybody, so we welcome that,” said Southgate.
“We are united in our beliefs.”
England players were jeered for taking the knee before Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Hungary, despite most of the crowd in Budapest being children.
Hungary were ordered by Uefa to play three games behind closed doors as punishment for discriminatory behaviour by their fans at Euro 2020.
But Saturday’s fixture saw over 30,000 spectators at the Puskas Arena as the Hungarian FA used a Uefa regulation that allows children up to 14 to attend for free if accompanied by an adult.
Hungary have also been ordered to play two games behind closed doors by world governing body Fifa because of racist abuse directed at England players during the World Cup qualifier in Budapest on 2 September.
Manchester City and Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan confirmed on Monday his national side would take a knee alongside England.
“We will go down on our knees together with the English because we want to support this whole initiative,” said Gundogan.
“We did this last year at the Euros and, of course, we will do it tomorrow too.”
Southgate’s side beat Germany en route to the Euro 2020 final last summer and he will be hopeful they can get their first win of the Nations League campaign to lift England off the bottom of Group A3.
Racist abuse adds ‘another layer’ to penalty picks
A potential dilemma for Southgate leading up to the World Cup in November is deciding which players will be involved if England take part in a penalty shootout.
During their Euros final defeat to Italy at Wembley Stadium last summer, racist abuse was aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the trio all missed their spot-kicks.
The UK Football Policing Unit received 600 reports of racist comments sent to England’s black players on social media after the game and judged 207 to be criminal.
Although Southgate said he did question whether he had “created this situation” for the players following the shootout disappointment, he added there has to be confidence in every taker who steps up.
“It wouldn’t be right to not pick the players you think are best to take them because of what the possible consequences of them missing would be,” he added. “I’ve got to pick them on the belief they are going to score.”
Saka scored two penalties for Arsenal last season during Premier League wins over Chelsea and Manchester United – achievements which Southgate called “massively courageous” and “epitomised” the 20-year-old’s character.
But the Three Lions boss added his team would be “goosed” if black players now have a fear of missing spot-kicks because of the problems with online racist abuse.
He said: “We’ve got 55 years of talking about penalties and everything else, so we’ve now got another layer that’s going to make it extremely difficult for us to win anything.
“I’m trying to balance whether the question is about the racism itself, which is abhorrent and unacceptable, and what you’re identifying, that there’s another layer of complexity in making that decision.”