FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has said he hopes a video explaining why England are kneeling at Euro 2020 will “galvanize” supporters.
The gesture was greeted with a few taunts ahead of England’s warm-up matches against Austria and Romania, but Gareth Southgate’s side remain determined to drop one knee to Croatia in their first leg. opening of Group D on Sunday.
Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Association have called on England fans to cheer their players and ‘stifle’ potential boos at Wembley, and Bullingham is hoping the proposed video – originally posted on the governing body’s social media – will show to supporters that kneeling is “supporting anti-discrimination” and not a “political act”.
Bullingham said Sky Sports News: “We want to galvanize the whole country behind the team, but at the same time we think we have to explain why we are taking the knee.
“It’s a video that does both. Get everyone excited for a home Euro and let people know why players think it’s important to show their support for an anti-discrimination law.”
On the decision of some supporters to boo before kick-off against Austria and Romania, Bullingham added: “It is extremely disappointing. We could not be clearer, our actions are not linked to a movement political The players do not show support for a political movement in any way It is an act of equality.
“They support the fight against discrimination. We are not asking all fans to kneel down themselves, we are asking them to respect the actions of the team and show their support. I hope and I do. wait until they do. They should all be behind the team.
“It’s really hard to predict (the reaction), but our hope and expectation is that they hear the message, this is not a political act and understand that it supports the fight against discrimination.”
The FA are also in talks with UEFA to broadcast the video to the big screens at Wembley on match day.
Bullingham said: “We’re not clear on that yet, obviously it’s a decision by UEFA.”
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“Even a half-full final at Wembley would be great”
There will be a 25% capacity at Wembley on Sunday, and Bullingham is hoping for more in the later stages of the tournament, with England’s national stadium set to host a last 16 match, then the semi-finals and the final.
The FA is working with the government on a possible hike to the round of 16, with any approval relying on coronavirus data, as the recovery roadmap carefully manages the return of fans to stadiums.
“We are hopeful and confident that we will get bigger numbers as we move through the tournament. The government is working on it,” Bullingham said.
“The government has been very clear with us about their ambition. We know we’re starting with 22,500 – it would be great if we got to the point where we double that for the later stages of the tournament. The more fans the better. ‘is .”
On the prospect of a sold-out Wembley for the semi-finals and the final, he added: “It would be great, but it’s not necessarily something we’re considering at the moment. we can even get half-full that would be fantastic. “