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irish backing Stephen Kenny questions why England players were criticised for taking the knee

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Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny has backed the England players who took issue with their own government's handling of the furore surrounding the taking of the knee during the European Championships.

Kenny is a strong supporter of the gesture and has previously condemned the boos aimed at his team's direction before a pre-Euros friendly with Hungary.

The Dubliner feels governments should be showing leadership on the matter rather than backing supporters who show their disgust in the stadium.

England defender Tyrone Mings called out home secretary Priti Patel in the aftermath of their final defeat to Italy when she hit out at racist abuse aimed at players who missed penalties.

Mings said that Patel had 'stoked the fire' at the beginning of the tournament by 'labelling our anti-racism message as Gesture Politics.'

Kenny was asked for his opinion on the Claire Byrne Live radio show this morning.

"It was strange it came from government level where Priti Patel actually backed the people who booed," said Kenny when asked about the behaviour of some England fans.

"We had that ourselves in Hungary where the players took the knee and of course they were booed and the Prime Minister backed the stance (of fans), I don't get that. There needs to be a leadership from the highest levels of government.

"I absolutely backed them. (Ireland players) I don't see it as a political gesture, I think it's humanitarian and I think, if they want to do it, I’m completely behind it."

Kenny said it was inevitable that politics and sport would mix, with his interview touching on how the new multicultural flavour in the Ireland squad reflected the diversity of the country in a way that isn't visible in other sports.

He also offered the view that UEFA need to clamp down on racial abuse in stadiums which, in his opinion, is arguably more 'blatant' than anonymous social media comments.

"Someone can hide behind a pseudonym on social media but, in stadiums throughout Europe, there should be greater sanctions to countries or clubs," he said.

The discussion covered a lot of old ground with Kenny again stressing his belief in his side's style of play and the blooding of young players. "At times we have an institutionalised view of how we an play, a limited view. If we lose a game we feel we have to be more direct because of how we did in a previous generation," he said.

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Kenny was also asked about the motivational video shown to squad before last November's friendly with England, with his reply similar to what he said a month later when an FAI investigation ended with no action. "I'm not sure why it was such a big story, and maybe that's a bigger story," he asserted.

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