England

Gareth Southgate urges England fans not to boo Italian national anthem

Max Cooper
Southgate has asked supporters not to boo the Italian national anthem
Southgate has asked supporters not to boo the Italian national anthem / Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images
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Gareth Southgate has pleaded with England fans attending the Euro 2020 final not to boo the Italian national anthem on Sunday evening, urging them to 'respect the opposition.'

The Football Association was fined £25,500 by UEFA after fans booed the Danish national anthem, set off fireworks inside the stadium, and shone a laser pen in Kasper Schmeichel's eyes prior to the decisive penalty kick in Wednesday's semi-final victory.

And when asked for his stance on the booing of the national anthem during Saturday evening's press conference, Southgate urged supporters to 'respect' Italy's anthem, and suggested that the jeering could spur their rivals on even further.

“It is important that our fans always respect the opposition and we know that in actual fact when we play abroad and fans boo our anthem it probably inspires us even more, so I don’t think it will help the team," Southgate explained.

“I think we can intimidate the team with the booing during the game, but it’s different for the anthem. I think we should be respectful.”

Southgate went on to suggest his players are 'very calm' and 'prepared' ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 final, while encouraging his stars to 'make history'.

"We're very calm. We've got a lot of belief in these players, and we've grown into this tournament. There've been opportunities to make history every time we've played.

Italy v Spain  - UEFA Euro 2020: Semi-final
Southgate has asked supporters not to boo the national anthem / Visionhaus/Getty Images

“The players are ready, they are tactically aware, they are used to playing in these games and looking forward to it.

“Over the last four years they’ve knocked down so many barriers, they’ve come through so many challenges, different ways to win matches, had to come back from being behind, had to go through extra-time, penalty shootouts, so their resilience and experience as a team has prepared them for this moment.”

Harry Kane joined in the press conference with Southgate, and the England captain reaffirmed that the team have been 'knocking down barriers' under their coach, and stated that they began the tournament with the intention of winning it.

"We've been knocking down barriers along the way, but we started the tournament with an aim to win it – and we want to do that tomorrow night."

Harry Kane
Kane and Southgate are on the brink of history / Frank Augstein - Pool/Getty Images

Southgate and the players received a fantastic reception and send-off from supporters on Saturday afternoon, as they left St George's Park and began their journey to London, in preparation for Sunday's game.

The England coach also received a letter from Queen Elizabeth, which he described as 'fantastic'.

“It’s been fantastic to have a letter from the queen, a letter from the prime minister to all of the team and the recognition that the players and all of the staff have gone about this in the right way,” he said.

“We had a fabulous reception when we left St George’s, all the local villages had come out and were lining the route and pulled over in laybys so you got more of a sense of what’s gone on outside of the bubble we’ve been in.

Gareth Southgate
Southgate has encouraged his players to make history / Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images

“But it always comes back to tomorrow, we’re in a final and we’re here to win. Everything is important how we’ve represented people and we’re pleased that legacy has been there but now we want to go and win the trophy for everybody."

England face the prospect of winning the European Championship for the first time in the country's history on Sunday, and becoming the first group of players to taste success since the famous World Cup winning side of 1966.

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