Gary Neville has hit out at high-ranking politicians, including the prime minister, after England players were racially abused online following the Euro 2020 final.
The former Manchester United and England full-back took aim at Boris Johnson after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were sent vile racist abuse following the game at Wembley last night.
The PM condemned the abuse, saying those responsible should be “ashamed of themselves”.
But Neville said it is, in part, down to the actions of those at the top that this behaviour has been allowed to happen.
Boo taking the knee
Appearing on Sky News earlier today, he said: “I’m just reading your breaking news, it says ‘the PM condemns racist abuse against England players’.
“Is that the same Prime Minister that a few weeks ago, I mean, Gareth Southgate and the players a few weeks ago about five days on the trot told us that they were taking the knee to promote equality, and it was against racism.
“The Prime Minister said that it was okay for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality, and defend against racism.
“It starts at the very top and so for me, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up this morning to those headlines.
“I expected that the minute the three players that missed miss. The fact of the matter is there is an issue obviously in football there is an issue in society where we feel it’s acceptable basically to criticise players for sporting actions because of the colour of their skin.”
Bang on from @GNev2. High-ranking politicians, including the Prime Minister, gave the nod to fans booing players for taking a stand against racism.— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) July 12, 2021
They cannot turn around and act surprised by what’s been unleashed now: they facilitated it! pic.twitter.com/s7n1LCnCbp
Earlier on Susanna Reid questioned a government health minister on the same matter.
Edward Argar was able to wriggle out of questions over people booing taking the knee, which has been supported by Priti Patel among others.
‘Do you support players taking the knee before a match?’ – @susannareid100— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) July 12, 2021
‘They should be entirely free to take the knee’ – Edward Argar
Susanna asks the Health Minister about whether the govt should be more critical of the fans who boo the players who take the knee. pic.twitter.com/ykjv3SwtTa
Give your head a wobble
Elsewhere, Adil Ray and James O’Brien were also quick to point out the PM’s hypocrisy.
Here’s what they had to say:
Piccaninnies & watermelon smiles, Prime Minister? https://t.co/evk2pqKObh— Adil Ray OBE 💙 (@adilray) July 12, 2021
Our players mounted the most powerful silent protest against racism we’ve ever seen and you refused to support them. The proven bully you made Home Secretary publicly criticised the team & then defended the racists who booed them.— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) July 12, 2021
Give your head a wobble. https://t.co/tY8KUtPtZd