Tyrone Mings says the largely positive reaction to players taking a knee before matches should not be overshadowed by comments from home secretary Priti Patel criticising the anti-racism protest.
Patel said on Monday England fans have a right to boo and described the players’ actions as “gesture politics”.
Critics of the gesture have cited links to political movements as their reason for booing, but England’s players and manager Gareth Southgate have repeatedly explained taking a knee as an anti-racism protest.
England’s players took a knee at Wembley before Sunday’s victory in their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, with applause largely drowning out boos from a minority of those in attendance.
“To the home secretary – I don’t really have a direct message,” Mings said on Tuesday. “We spoke and she invited me onto a Zoom call once, where she seemed so interested and engrossed in players kind of point of view and what we could do more to tackle these sort of issues.
“But at the same time, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. The home secretary is one of many, many people that oppose us taking the knee, or refuse to defend it.
“We have our own set of beliefs and what we think we can do to help or be players that can be influential and can stand up for what we believe in, and understandably when you have such strong beliefs there will be opposition to that.
“We’ve spoken about it a lot, we’ve spoken about trying to educate or trying to inform the minority who refuse to acknowledge why we’re taking the knee and want to boo it.
“But at the same time, in Wembley there was a hugely positive reaction to us taking the knee as well and I don’t think that should be overshadowed by a minority that refuse to accept what the reasons or don’t agree with them.”
‘Talk of keeping Maguire out of team bizarre’
Featuring in his first major international tournament, Aston Villa defender Mings played the full 90 minutes as England beat Croatia 1-0 on Sunday.
Mings got the nod to play alongside John Stones at the heart of England’s defence as Southgate opted to go with a back four, with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire still recovering from an ankle injury.
Mings’ strong performance has led to speculation he could be difficult to dislodge from Southgate’s starting line-up, although in any case, Maguire is unlikely to be fit to face Scotland in England’s second group stage match on Friday.
Asked about speculation he could keep Maguire out of the team, Mings said: “It’s a little bit bizarre given how much credit in the bank Harry has got and what a fantastic defender he is.
“But at the same time there is absolutely competition for places and I think he is somebody that I look up to in terms of a centre-back and somebody that is so consistent, with a lot of pressure on his shoulders being captain of Man Utd and being one of the main players for England.
“He’s a person I take a lot of inspiration from, so to be mentioned in same breath as him is a compliment in itself.”
Read More: Sports News