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England football 2021 England to discuss taking the knee

England football 2021 England to discuss taking the knee

England football England football taking the discuss knee to England

Thu, 25 Mar 2021 02:00:00 +0000

England manager Gareth Southgate says the squad will continue to have talks about whether to take the knee before games

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Gareth Southgate says that the England squad will continue to have talks about whether to take the knee before games.

A number of clubs and players have stopped taking the knee, saying it has not been having the required impact.

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha was the first Premier League player to stand since the anti-racism gesture was introduced last summer.

"We'll be unified on whatever we do and if there's any doubt then I think we would take the knee," the manager said.

Southgate said he has asked members from the leadership team, made up of senior players in the squad, to discuss it with the wider group before Thursday's opening World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

England will also face Albania and Poland in the next seven days.

"I spoke with the leadership team about this last night and asked them to talk to the rest because I think it's a good process for them to hear each other's views," the 50-year-old added.

"That's part of how we educate ourselves in all of these different matters and these different issues.

"I'm hugely respectful of everybody's individual opinions on that and I still think there is an impact to be had on it.

When I listened to Zaha's comments, for example, I thought he spoke really well, and I totally understood why he felt that [taking the knee] wasn't enough now and that it seems to be just part of the background."

On Tuesday, Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins said it was a "touchy subject", but added that his team-mate and fellow England squad member Tyrone Mings said they should continue with the gesture.

Mings was part of the England team that twice stopped their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria in 2019 because of racist abuse.

"The debate around whether we should take the knee or not or whether we should walk off a pitch or not…

they're actually slightly peripheral things," added Southgate.

"The core problems are racism and discrimination, and there are deeper discussions that need to happen.

"We've got to address the much deeper issues as much as we've got to make a symbolic gesture."

Wales players took the knee before the start of Wednesday's qualifier against Belgium while Scotland plan to stand in solidarity against racism before kick-off of their game at home to Austria on Thursday.

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England football England football

Thu, 25 Mar 2021 02:00:00 +0000

The odds will be stacked against San Marino even more than usual when they travel to Wembley to take on England in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday 

The odds will be stacked against San Marino even more than usual when they travel to Wembley to take on England in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday night

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England begin the road to next year’s World Cup against a team who have NEVER won a competitive match.

San Marino are the lowest ranked team in world football, they have a population of 33,000 and are made up largely of part-timers.

And if England stars think this season has been difficult, then spare a thought for San Marino who were not able to play for FOUR MONTHS.

Coronavirus restrictions meant there were no non-league matches allowed, players were only allowed to train individually between October and February and they have only just started playing again.

It is hardly the best preparation for a trip to Wembley but the world’s lowest ranked team still see it as a huge adventure to face England.

San Marino boss Franco Varrella, 68, a former Juventus youth team player and experienced coach, said: “We only started one month ago, we’ve played just four official games before this triple header of World Cup qualifying matches.

“We are far away from our best condition and even further away than Premier League players can reach.

Our target to fix a score would be difficult but we can hope to make it difficult for them.

“When the opposition is so tough, the challenges are incredibly high.

But it is a dream to play great teams but the challenge for every team is to make sure we never enter the pitch already beaten.

That is our target for this game, to enter the pitch not beaten.

“England are a very good team now.

They play a much more international style than they have in recent years.”

Veteran midfielder Mirko Palazzi, 34, added: “To play here at Wembley is always a very proud moment for us, especially in such a historical moment at the start of a campaign.

“We want to make a better start ourselves at Wembley because it is a temple of football and England are one of the best teams in the world.

“We’ve played as a national team in so many games with some really big opponents, England, Spain and Germany.

Each time we’ve faced professional opponents, even with the smaller teams.

“We want to be as professional as possible even if we’re not professional and we’re normal working people.

But when San Marino players end their careers, the most beautiful memories will be from the national team, playing in great stadiums.

“I’ve played at Wembley three times and it’s incredible – even if it’s a source of jokes from my team mates in the locker room."

San Marino have played England six times, lost all six, conceding 37 goals and scoring just once… the famous opening goal back in 1993 when Davide Gualtieri scored after just 8.3 seconds which remains the second fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history.

Gualtieri is a national hero despite England eventually winning 7-1 but they still missed out on qualifying for the 1994 World Cup which cost Graham Taylor his job.

Incredibly, they were ranked 118th – which was their highest ever standing – after losing to England in 1993 but, after several changes to the FIFA system in recent years, they now find themselves marooned nearly 100 places lower at the bottom of the pile.

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FIFA has 211 recognised nations but only 210 are currently ranked.

But they have just enjoyed their best ever sequence – two consecutive goalless draws against Lichtenstein and then Gibraltar – and so all hope is not lost.

There will always be debate about whether minnows should be playing big nations but this remains a dream come true for San Marino and striker Matteo Vitaioli sums up the mood in the squad.

Vitaioli, 31, who has scored one goal in 62 caps while working part time in a graphic design office, said: “We will share the pitch with players that we are used to seeing on TV.”

Football has always been about dreams and romance – and San Marino are entitled to theirs.

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– March 25, 2021
England football 2021 England to discuss taking the knee

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