15 July 2021, The Tablet

Should I ever meet Cardinal Sarah, I hope he will let me kiss his ring

Should I ever meet Cardinal Sarah, I hope he will let me kiss his ring

Right now, England’s answer to the national affliction that was the Euros final is to host an impassioned argument about “taking the knee”, that is, the custom of the England team to express its collective solidarity with anyone affected by racism. What may have started as an emotional gesture by black sportsmen in the US against police brutality, especially after the killing of George Floyd, has turned into a non-negotiable act of political conformity in a very different culture, undertaken by politicians and police as well as sportsmen. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, expressed mild scepticism about the England team taking the knee at the beginning of the tournament; the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, dismissed taking the knee as “gesture politics”. After the online abuse of the black or mixed raced footballers who missed penalty shots in the final, one of the players has said Ms Patel had “stoked the fire” by refusing to criticise fans who booed the England team for taking the knee.

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