Kneed for respect

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As Wales and Switzerland took the knee before kicking off in their European Championship game in Baku on Saturday afternoon, I was expecting a few boos from the 7,500 crowd, only a few hundred of which were actually supporters of the two teams. After all, that part of the world is not known for being particularly woke in terms of racial, or indeed any, equality.

To my surprise it didn’t happen, which set me wondering, after seeing the reaction at the pre tournament England friendly games against Austia and Romania if this is just an English phenomenon.

It’s politicising football (no it’s not), it’s an empty gesture (well make your mind up, is it one or the other?)

If it’s a meaningless piece of pantomime, then why are the nay sayers so threatened by it that they are getting fired up over something that at the very least is a show of solidarity and mutual respect?

No gesture is empty if it is carried out with commitment. The regularity, and even routine if you want to call it that, of the gesture is irrelevant.

In a heartfelt and extremely dignified open letter published during the week, England manager Gareth Southgate said that today”s players have been given the privilege of having a voice and they have a responsibility as role models to use it.

Taking the knee is a very small part of that and the England camp has made it plain that the practise will continue with the support of the whole squad.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and disagreeing with taking the knee certainly doesn’t automatically make someone a racist, but reacting so vehemently to something that comes from a genuine place certainly makes them disrespectful.

Call it naïve tokenism if you like, I prefer to think of it as a declaration of support for all as equals.

Of course, it’s not going to change things any more than standing on the doorstep and clapping for the NHS did, but that’s not what taking the knee is about and anyone who thinks it is really doesn’t get it at all.

And they probably never will.

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With the newly puritanical woke-named Delta variant of COVID-19 now accounting for 90 per cent of all new cases in England, the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions on June 21 is looking less and less likely, which puts the government in a no-win situation.

If they delay for an extra month people will moan and point the finger, saying they don;t know what they’re doing, yet if they go ahead – on the basis that the primary aim for our impressive vaccination roll-out is not to stop people from contracting the virus, it’s to stop people from dying of it or putting more pressure on the NHS – then fatalities begin to climb again, it will, of course, be Boris’s fault.

After the past 15 months or so, is another four weeks really that big a deal?

Or does it mess with your holiday plans?

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Before I get accused of sticking up for the Tories, they blotted their copybook again last week with another shameless example of jobs for the boys with the revelation on the back of Matt Hancock not declaring an involvement in his sister’s business, that a half a million-pound contract was awarded to a communications company owned by a friend of then No10 enfant terrible Dominic Cummings.

This sleaziness is why I don’t trust politicians of any party.

Stupid TV quiz answers of the week:

Tipping Point of course.

Q: In which decade was Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest child born?

A: The 1840s?

Q: A Long Black is a type of which hot beverage?

A: Beer?

Edward Case

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