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John Barnes Accuses Gareth Southgate Of ‘Not Understanding How Complex Racism Is’

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John Barnes Accuses Gareth Southgate Of ‘Not Understanding How Complex Racism Is’

John Barnes has said that Gareth Southgate "doesn't understand how complex racism is" as he shared his views on England taking the knee via Twitter.

The former Liverpool and Three Lions star has been vocal on his view that such gestures cannot change systematic racism and hit out at Southgate, after the manager expressed his views that England players have a duty to "raise awareness" over racist abuse and inequality in this way.

Southgate was widely praised for his words in the aftermath of some England fans booing players as they took the knee before their two final Euro 2020 warm-up matches.

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But Barnes explained his views on Twitter, using Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (who has chosen to stop taking the knee) as an example.

"If Wilfried Zaha played for England and decided not to take the knee, would Southgate then say we wont take the knee and we'll support him?" questioned Barnes.

"What does GARETH think is the right thing to do? Take the knee, don't take the knee, or just support what the players want?"

He added: "I'm 100% behind Gareth to try to win the Euros but he doesn't understand how complex racism is and solutions are even more complicated and h and the team are being used by the system to deflect from real inequality in the inner cities by solely focusing and concentrating on football."

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Barnes, who faced horrendous racist abuse in his playing days, has expressed his view several times that he doesn't believe racism is a football issue. Rather, it's a wider problem in society that surfaces around the national game.

As Barnes puts it: "Taking the knee or not taking the knee isn't important. Actions rather than gestures and conversation concerning the impact of gestures is futile."

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Clearly most of the players within the England camp believe the pre-match gesture - designed as a show of solidarity against racist abuse, intolerance and bigotry - has value. However Barnes's point appears to be Southgate's blanket support is not necessarily helpful.

Southgate made his feelings clear in the aftermath of England's two friendlies against Austria and Romania, when some fans at the Riverside Stadium booed the players before kick-off, as he reiterated that England would continue taking the knee throughout Euro 2020.

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"I think you have to put yourself in the shoes of a young England player about to represent his country," said Southgate. "We're all trying to move towards equality and support our own teammates because of some of the experiences they've been through in their lives, but people decided to boo.

"I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players. If that was their children - if they're old enough to have children - how would they feel about their kids being in that situation?

"The most important thing for our players is for them to know we are totally united on it. We're totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team, and we feel more than ever that we are determined to take the knee throughout this tournament."

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: England

Alex Reid
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