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Some England supporters defy pleas not to boo players taking the knee

Boos came ahead of the Euro 2020 opener with Croatia.

A minority of England fans once again defied calls not to jeer the players as they took the knee before kick-off in the Euro 2020 clash with Croatia.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, the Football Association and prime minister Boris Johnson all urged supporters not to boo the anti-racism stance.

But those requests fell on some deaf ears, with an audible round of jeers from some of the expected 22,500 crowd – although cheers from the vast majority soon drowned them out.

Gareth Southgate asked England's fans not to boo
Gareth Southgate asked England's fans not to boo (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Croatia national anthem was also booed and the reaction followed on from jeers at the two warm-up games played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium – only this time the whole continent was watching as England fans returned to Wembley for the first time since November 2019.

Southgate said last week that he would not allow his players to continue to be questioned about the knee and the subsequent reaction once the tournament got under way.

A UEFA spokesman told the PA news agency ahead of the game the governing body cannot punish any nations whose supporters do react to the gesture.

"UEFA has a zero tolerance against racism and any player who wants to demand equality amongst human beings by taking the knee will be allowed to do so," he said.

"We urge spectators to show respect for teams and players taking the knee.

"UEFA will not take disciplinary action against the national association for their fans' reaction to this initiative as there are no legal grounds to do so in the current competition and disciplinary regulations and to do so would be to punish a national association whose players have taken a stand against racism."

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Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

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