Lee Anderson discusses refusal to watch Euro 2020 games
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However, Mr Anderson has hit back, insisting he is “delighted” at England’s success in reaching the final of the European Championships – while confirming he would not be watching Sunday’s match with Italy. Gareth Southgate’s men kneel before matches in a demonstration against racism, having been inspired by American Football player Colin Kaepernick.
Critics – including Mr Anderson – claim the protests, closely associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, are politically motivated.
While their protest triggered boos from some England supporters in earlier games, these have melted away as the Three Lions have progressed in the tournament.
However, Ashfield MP Mr Anderson, who was elected in 2019, has steadfastly refused to get caught up in the euphoria, having vowed last month not to watch the English national team “whilst they are supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life”.
Labour, in a move described by Politico as the “biggest act of political opportunism this week”, has created a petition urging Mr Anderson to keep his television set switched off rather than reversing his position and tuning in.
The introduction to the petition, carried on the Labour website, explains: “Sulky Tory MP Lee Anderson hasn’t been cheering England’s heroes like the rest of us because he doesn’t like their simple act of anti-racism.“As Anderson was born in 1967 we think maybe he’s been the jinx all along.”
It adds: “Reaching our first final since before he was born is such a great feeling. But it’s not enough.
“We want to finish the job on Sunday.
“So we’re saying: Anderson, stay away, do the housework, watch Midsomer Murders, anything.
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“And keep up your pathetic one-man boycott for one more game. “Come on England!”
Mr Anderson was also criticised by former GMB host Piers Morgan, who branded him an “absolute d***head”.
Others agreed, with one asking: “Has anyone told him that the England team have nothing to do with any other political movement.
“It’s about them supporting and standing up against racism and in doing so, standing up for each other and the hate that some of them are subjected to.”
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Yesterday, Mr Anderson told Nottinghamshire Live: “I made a decision not to watch sporting events where the knee is taken before the event starts.”
I will always support my country in all sports and am delighted the team are through to the final.
“I find it very strange that Ashfield Labour are now criticising me, after all when did they suddenly become a flag-waving, patriotic and football-loving party?
“Asked to confirm whether he would be skipping England’s biggest game in 55 years, he added: “I’m not sure which part is not clear.”
He also confirmed his decision via Facebook, explaining he would be “checking my phone for updates to see if they’ve scored and cheer if they have”.
On GB News today, he added: “I’m 54 years old, I’ve watched every single tournament since I was born.
“England’s never won one, they look like winning in 1990 and ’98 they should have won, maybe 86 I can remember that far back.
“I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed that I’m not gonna watch it. Of course I am being but I made a statement and I’d be being hypocrite, to go back on that, the left would like that.
“I am a massive England supporter but I made a statement, and I stick to my words.
“I’m not going to watch the game but I’m going support to the team.
“I hope they bring it down, and I’ll be the first one cheering and I’ll have my English shirt on Sunday night.
“But like I said, I made that statement and I have to stick to it.
“There’s a lot of people agree but I’m not going to discourage anybody from watching the game, I’m just making my own little stand, and I think I’m entitled to do that.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Anderson at the House of Commons to offer him a chance to comment further.England’s match with Italy kicks off at Wembley Stadium at 8pm on Sunday.
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