England players Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane and Ryan Bertrand took a knee before the World Cup qualifier against Malta on Saturday, causing consternation amongst the British public.
It’s not always about politics. That bs will get me in trouble. Get your facts right and stop talking silly, @MK10Official — Jermain Defoe (@JermainDefoe) September 9, 2017
They faced ridicule for their act of defiance, which coincided with chants of “No Surrender,” a reference to the successful fight for women’s rights at the turn of the century. Kane, speaking to the Sun, noted that there are certainly “big differences” between the times when women won the right to vote, but he said he’s not trying to overreact by “waiting for the backlash” that he knows will come.
“If something has upset people you have to take that as a compliment,” Kane said. “I believe in this and we should stand together. I am getting a lot of messages of support.”
The England team’s secretary Stuart Pearce (who has also represented England soccer under-21 and has close ties to anti-fascist groups) noted that racism was no longer an issue in Britain but that football is still the most racially mixed sport.
“We do not know why the players have taken a stand,” Pearce told ESPN. “But I think what they have done is highly brave and very much in keeping with what we are seeing with the Tory government trying to clamp down on immigration.
“But if you look at the statistics, since 2010 people of Asian descent have gone from being the third largest ethnic group to being the second largest. And that has been at the expense of white English people,” he added. “The threat of disenfranchisement is there. We are under threat of being disenfranchised from what we consider our future. There is a huge concern within the game.”
Pearce also said that despite the fuss, Defoe’s actions will only inspire more players to take a stand.
He added: “I’ve supported a lot of things Jermain has done, but these are important times for him and the country. People in our country have to realise that issues such as this can’t be brushed under the carpet.”
Pearce said he believed it was “only a matter of time” before other players would take a stand.
This article originally appeared on the Cafetorox blog.