Laurence Fox today said he hopes England will lose in the first round of the Euros as he criticised footballers for taking the knee, calling them ‘millionaire woke babies protesting inequality on £200,000 a week’.
The outspoken actor and one-time Mayor of London candidate launched into a Twitter rant following criticism of fans for booing when players knelt on the pitch ahead of their friendly clash with Romania on Sunday night at the Riverside Stadium.
Footballers have taken to kneeling before every game for the past year in a defiant message against racism in all walks of life, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
After a minority booed the stance ahead of Wednesday’s win over Austria, manager Gareth Southgate urged fans to support players making the gesture against discrimination, but this failed to convince some fans who did the same on Sunday.
Some critics see the knee as a political act in support of Black Lives Matter, which has become controversial in some quarters after some activists expressed Marxist rhetoric and backed defunding the police.
Southgate has said the players had explained so many times that the gesture did not represent some of the more extreme views of the Black Lives Matter group that those choosing to ignore that are doing so deliberately.
Actor Laurence Fox slammed the England squad for kneeling ahead of their final Euros warm-up against Romania on Sunday evening as the anti-racism protest continues to take place
Some England fans booed players kneeling before kick off against Romania on Sunday evening
All England players and all but two of the Romanian squad took the knee ahead of the clash
The jeers returned to the Riverside Stadium for the second time in five days, where an experimental and inexperienced England earned a 1-0 victory through captain Marcus Rashford’s second-half penalty.
Despite the dissatisfaction from some members of the crowd, a number of fans tried to drown out the discontent with a round of applause for the players.
But 43-year-old Fox – who is best known for playing DS James Hathaway in Lewis – was left fuming at the act and shared his thoughts with his followers.
In a string of Tweets shared on Sunday night, Fox said: ‘I’m embarrassed to be British. I hope any team but ours wins in any future sporting endeavour.
‘Tell me a single thing to moderate my thinking? Millionaire woke babies protesting inequality on two hundred grand a week.
‘We deserve everything that is coming. Weak men. Weak.
‘My prayers are with Croatia, The Czech Republic and Scotland. Knock these woke English babies out.
‘My whole life I’ve wanted England to win at football.
‘From a sofa with glandular fever during Italia 90 and Salvatore Schillaci, to a traffic jam in west London in an overheating mini listening to England beat Holland 4-1 in 96. Tw*tter rant over.’
Marcus Rashford, who captained England in Middlesbrough on Sunday evening, said of the booing: ‘It’s something we can’t control. We’re going to continue to do it.’
It comes as Conservative MP Lee Anderson said he would be boycotting England games until they stopped taking the knee.
Mr Anderson, who represents Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘For the first time in my life I will not be watching my beloved England team whilst they are supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life.’
The 54-year-old said the FA and England team now ‘run the risk of becoming like the Labour Party and that is having nothing in common with their traditional supporters’.
Pictured: MP Lee Anderson has said he will boycott England football if players kneel
The Three Lions have made the anti-racism stance in every match since international football resumed last year and will continue to do so despite some negative reaction when supporters returned on Wednesday.
Southgate said the team were ‘collectively disappointed’ about the negative reaction in midweek, which was the first England match played in front of fans since November 2019.
The Three Lions boss urged fans to respect the players’ stance, while the FA are understood to have considered using the public announcement system at Middlesbrough to urge fans to respect the gesture.
‘I think I sadly sort of expected what happened to happen,’ he said.
‘We’ve accepted that, as a group. It isn’t going to stop what we are doing and what we believe. It certainly isn’t going to stop my support for our players and our staff.
‘That’s it, we are going to have to live with that. We’ve said what we are going to say now.
‘You are right to ask the question today but moving forward, it is pointless me going into any further detail on that.’
He later added: ‘I would ask people to reflect on how they would feel if they were an England player, a young England player, just about to represent their country and hearing basically the team being booed.’
Gareth Southgate urged fans to get behind the players ahead of kick off in Middlesbrough
Yet supporters still opted to voice their disapproval of players kneeling, with boos heard at the Riverside Stadium while a number of fans tried to drown out the discontent with a round of applause for the players.
Reflecting on the most recent episode of booing, ITV pundit Ian Wright remains adamant that those opposing kneeling can still be educated on the subject.
‘You focus on the game but you’re still explaining it and they’re still booing. You’ve got to still try and reach those people,’ he said at half time.
Taking the knee was devised as a peaceful way to make a point about racial injustice by American footballer Colin Kaepernick, along with US Special Forces veteran Nate Boyer, who had objected to Kaepernick sitting out the US national anthem and suggested an alternative.
Players took the knee before every match of the Premier League season, but there have been repeated instances of the gesture being booed after fans returned to stadiums.
There were several jeers during the Leicester v Chelsea clash at the FA Cup Final but these were quickly drowned out by applause.