Euro 2020 Final: England fans ignore Southgate request, boo Italy national anthem (Reuters Photo)
A section of fans at Wembley Stadium booed Italys national anthem in a disrespectful gesture ahead of the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy on Sunday. Before the start of the much-anticipated final, there were boos heard from the stands when the teams had line-up for the national anthems even as the iconic stadium was packed to the rafters.
England fans gesture comes days after manager Gareth Southgate urged them to not disrespect the opposition by booing during the ceremony at the start of the Euro 2020 fixtures. Southgates comments came after a section of supporters were heard booing the Denmark national anthem during their semi-final at Wembly last week.
Notably, the UEFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against England for the lighting of fireworks by their fans and the disturbance caused by them during the national anthem of Denmark in the semi-final.
UEFA also fined Englands Football Association 30,000 euros ($35,619) after a laser pointer was shone at Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel during the decisive Harry Kane penalty kick in their semi-final.
England fans ignore Lineker, Southgate pleas
Southgate had requested the fans on the eve of the final not to boo Italy during their national anthem, saying booing during the match is fair but not when the anthems of opposition teams are being played.
"Its important that our fans always respect the opposition and we know that in fact when we play abroad and fans boo our anthem it probably inspires us even more, so I dont think it will help the team," Southgate said.
"I think we can intimidate the team with the booing during the game, but its different for the anthem. I think we should be respectful."
England great Gary Lineker also said its disrespectful of the fans to boo the opposition teams during their national anthem. "If youre lucky enough to get a ticket for the final, please, please dont boo the Italian anthem," Lineker tweeted on Thursday. " Its an absolute belter and worth listening to. B/ Its bloody rude, disrespectful and utterly classless."
However, former England defender Gary Neville played down the booing of the opposition national anthem, questioning if the gesture was disrespectful at all.
"When I played in the different countries and our NA [national anthem] was booed I always took it as the opposition fans trying to unsettle us, drown our fans out and never as some kind of attack on us as people," Neville said on Twitter.