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Just under half of England fans support players taking the knee ahead of matches, a new study has found.

The Three Lions have carried out the gesture of kneeling directly before kick-off during their matches over the last year to show their opposition to racism.

England boss Gareth Southgate insists his squad are duty-bound to support "equality and inclusivity" and tackle "racial injustice" by taking the knee.

But his players were booed by some fans at the Riverside Stadium last week as they dropped to one knee ahead of Euro 2020 warm-up matches with Austria and Romania.

A fresh study shows that 48 per cent of football fans in England support the Three Lions taking the knee.

England players taking the knee was met with boos from some fans last week
(Image: Getty)

The research conducted by MORI found almost a third of fans (27 per cent) oppose the gesture.

When fans who support taking the knee were asked why they do so, the three most common responses were: "it is an important message in the fight against racism" (57 per cent); "because racism is still a serious problem in Britain" (57 per cent); "to show solidarity with Black players and Black people in the UK and elsewhere" (52 per cent).

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Eighth in the list of nine reasons with 27 per cent of support was "the Black Lives Matter movement represents a political ideology I support".

On the other end of the argument, fans in opposition to taking the knee were quizzed on their stance.

The most common responses were: "There should be no political statements made during football matches" (52 per cent); "the players have made their point but should stop now" (46 per cent); "the Black Lives Matter movement represents a political ideology that I oppose" (42 per cent).

What do you make of the study's findings? Have your say in the comments.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent of football fans in England think that supporters booing the Three Lions for taking the knee at Euro 2020 will negatively impact the fight against racism in football. Over a fifth of fans (21 per cent) believe it will have a positive impact, while 28 per cent think the impact will be neither positive nor negative.

MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said of the findings: "In general, football fans in England are much more likely to support the England team taking the knee before games at the Euros than oppose.

"There is a significant minority that do oppose, in fact three in 10 football fans support those that boo the team for kneeling.

"That being said, many more fans oppose the booing and express feelings of shame, embarrassment and discomfort in response.

"Strikingly, almost half of football fans in England think the booing will negatively impact the fight against racism in football, posing the question of what the long term implications of such events might be for the game."