• The controversy swells around the knee on the ground before the start of the matches of Euro 2021.

  • Russian, Hungarian and part of the English fans hissed at the players who knelt against racism.

  • In France, the Blues have decided to stand up in the face of the lack of unanimity within the countries participating in Euro 2021.

From our special correspondent not quite arrived in Budapest,

It went a little unnoticed with the microlight incident of a Greenpeace activist at the Allianz Arena, but the Blues did not finally put their knees on the ground before the kick-off of France-Germany, even though they had received the blessing of Roxana Maracineanu on the day of the meeting.

"I am attached to the role of sport, of sportsmen to speak about human rights in our country and in the world, declared the Minister for Sports on BFM TV.

I think that's what the players of the France team want to do.

" Or not.

Hugo Lloris: “We start from the principle that the knee to the ground is a collective decision.

If we have to do it, all the nations must do it with the support of UEFA ”.

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Hungary and Russia hostile knee to the ground

Have the French players given in to a particularly turbulent part of the country, and even the continent? Because, important precision, before being invited to Puy du Fou, the debate had already spread widely on both sides of Europe. Including in Hungary, future opponent of the Blues. The Hungarians had distinguished themselves by refusing to kneel before the preparation match against Ireland, a gesture that coach Stephen Kenny will deem "incomprehensible" but that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban graciously took the time to explain.

The latter - whose political opinions are no longer presented - supported the hostility of Magyar fans for this gesture which he describes as a "provocation". “If you are invited to a country, make an effort to understand its culture and do not provoke local residents. "And to take the historical shortcut: for Orban," it is not a solution "to bring such a moral and historical" burden "in a country like Hungary which" has never been concerned by the human trafficking. 'slaves'.

A little further east, the same treatment was reserved for Belgium for its entry into the tournament, in Saint-Petersburg.

Against the host country.

Ronan Evain, French referent of Russian supporterism: “We can not agree with the action or not understand it, but the boos correspond here to a rejection of these demonstrations.

It should be noted that the public of the Russian selection is not organized and that a priori, its reaction does not respond to instructions given by groups of supporters.

In other words, it is spontaneous and shared, it is the expression of a societal thought that transcends sport.

A gesture that has become too routine?

However, we will refrain from making the Manichean trial of Eastern Europe on the basis of a tendency that is far more difficult to interpret than clearly condemnable behavior such as the words of the Czech Kudela, suspended ten matches by UEFA for having slipped a racist insult to Glen Kamara in the Europa League or the openly racist chants of the Bulgarian public at the reception of England in Sofia, in 2019. Sad events over which the Slavic world does not have a monopoly: we will remember this way episodes Moukhtar Diakhaby in Spain and Moussa Marega in Portugal.

The knee-gate does not respond to any geographic logic. To resume our census, the Croatian players have chosen not to put their knees on the ground, nor the Scots who, until proven guilty, still live much further north. A Yougov poll of 4,500 football supporters from nine Western European countries published by Sky Sports tends to demonstrate this idea of ​​a lack of unanimity on the issue of kneeling, with a few exceptions: the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Italians and Britons from ethnic minorities over 50% believe that kneeling down is important in the fight against racism. A figure that drops below this bar in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“I think the knee down when it was first proposed and adopted was a really powerful symbol. But it may have been diluted a bit, ”explained Scottish coach Steve Clarke, echoing an argument already made by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace). “Kneeling has become part of the pre-game routine and right now it doesn't matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us continue to experience racial abuse. “Contacted by

20 Minutes

, the former Strasbourg resident Ricardo Faty also believes that the gesture has had its day on European lawns.

“I still say that it remains a very American phenomenon, it was very good at the beginning to mark the occasion of the episode of George Floyd.

After that, that it is institutionalized I find it inappropriate or even ridiculous.

I understand that people are skeptical that we arrive in June 2021 in international competition and that we still do.


Identity and witch hunts

Since we are talking about chronology, George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020 during his arrest and the first match preceded by the famous ceremony destined to be perpetuated by the English clubs on the initiative of the Irishman David McGoldrick (Sheffield - Aston Villa, June 17, 2020) has just celebrated its birthday.

So it's starting to take a long time, but the argument of weariness should not serve as a carpet under which to hide the dust of racism. For example, it took Milwall supporters less time (English D2) to whistle players on their knees: they literally did it for their return to the Den stadium after nine months of absence, on December 5, 2020. The same stadium, a good part of which had been closed in 2019 after a song whose content we let you appreciate: "I'd rather be a Paki than a Scouse [inhabitant of Liverpool]". Elegant.

If the people who reject the kneeling of the players are not necessarily racist, the converse leaves little room for doubt. Members of an English identity group were seen on the outskirts of Wembley with a banner urging Southgate players to boo before the match against Croatia as had already been the case during the preparation matches. Their motto? Patrisse Cullors, at the origin of the slogan Black Lives Matter, claiming to be the old Marxist enemy, we must oppose anything that comes close to it. An idea that has gained ground for several years, in particular thanks to the support of conservative authors, but finally rejected by Boris Johnson several days ago, Downing Street having decided that the unity behind the English team took precedence over the rest .

Whatever the extent of the controversy, the Three Lions have announced that they will not let go.

"Because it's the right thing to do," said Marcus Rashford.

Ricardo Faty does not entirely agree with the idea of ​​placing such a heavy burden on the players.

“It's not up to the players to be mobilized.

The players have grown up in diversity for the most part and are 99% anti-racism.

But around football, you have to punish hard for mistakes.

Wear an armband, put on laces, etc.

This is nonsense.

We must sanction, remove points and go behind closed doors when there are supporters.

Racism has existed before and will continue to exist.

We must not deny it, but we must strike hard.

Until the enemy kneels on the ground.


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