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Players and officials take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement during the international friendly match between England and Austria at Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, England, on June 2. Photo: Alex Pantling – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

England's Football Association issued a statement Saturday asking fans to respect players taking the knee to protest racism after some supporters booed the national soccer team for doing so ahead of the European Championships.

Driving the news: Ahead of England's opening game in the tournament against Croatia at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the FA asked fans "that oppose this action to reflect on the message you are sending to the players you are supporting."

"Please respect their wishes and remember that we should all be united in the fight to tackle discrimination."
— FA statement

The big picture: The police killing of George Floyd last year in the U.S. sparked an international protest movement calling on governments to address systemic racism, with many soccer players in countries including England taking the knee to highlight the problem.

  • A YouGov poll out this week found 54% of English soccer fans back players taking the knee, but 39% are against the action, with critics saying it politicizes the sport, Reuters notes.
  • A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that he "would like to see everyone getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo," while England manager Gareth Southgate, who's taken the knee from the touchline, issued an open letter to supporters on the importance of the protest.

Go deeper

Sep 6, 2021 - Sports

Brazil-Argentina soccer game stopped by health officials

Argentina's Lionel Messi (left) and Brazil's Neymar join in as health agency officials enter the soccer pitch during a South American World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday. Photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil and Argentina's soccer World Cup qualifier was postponed minutes after it began when Brazilian health officials intervened and raised concerns COVID-19 protocols had been broken Sunday.

Driving the news: South American soccer's governing body, CONMEBOL, confirmed the match at Sao Paulo's Neo Quimica Arena was suspended, after the health officials ran onto the pitch. The players walked off the field with the game at 0-0.

58 seconds ago - World

U.S. envoy to visit Sudan as "most dangerous" crisis intensifies

The sit-in in Khartoum. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty

U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will visit Khartoum this week amid what Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has called the “worst and most dangerous" crisis of Sudan’s transition to democracy, two sources with direct knowledge tell Axios.

Driving the news: Roughly 2,000-3,000 people had joined a sit-in in Khartoum as of this afternoon, per Reuters, after protesters massed over the weekend to call on the military to bring down the government. The protests came just four weeks after a failed military coup.

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.