Gareth Southgate defends St George's flag after England kit change - 'I'm a huge patriot'


England manager Gareth Southgate has weighed in on the debate surrounding the redesign of the St George’s flag on his side’s kit for the Euros this summer. The Three Lions boss labelled the colour change as ‘quirky’ but refused to recognise it as the traditional flag.

Nike have come under immense criticism since launching England’s home strip for the Euros, with some supporters calling for the kits to be recalled and redesigned. A small flag on the neck of the shirt has fuelled the anger, with the St James’ flag being printed in blue and purple, rather than red and white.

The decision is said to have been a nod to the training kit worn by the England squad worn by the 1966 World Cup-winning team. However, Three Lions fans have been left infuriated by the changes made to the flag, with even Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking out against the design.

Speaking ahead of England’s friendly against Brazil this weekend, Southgate was asked for his views on the shirt and the outrage it has caused, to which he explained: “My view is if it’s not white with a red cross it’s not the St George's flag.

“The most important thing on the England shirt is the Three Lions really. That is the thing that is iconic, that differentiates us even from the England rugby team or the England cricket team. I am a huge patriot. I believe we should celebrate St George’s Day more than we do. The flag of St George, there’s an interesting history because years ago it was just the Union Jack following England. So there’s a lot of nuance to that.

“But the bit I understand … people don’t think we should change the flag of St George … if it’s changed then it isn’t the flag of St George! So I’m a little bit lost with that element of it. I think they can put a quirky design together but you can’t say it’s the flag of St George because it isn’t. It’s therefore something else.”

Southgate then went on to speak about the prices of each strip, with replica kits being priced at £124.99 and £119.99 for kits. He continued: “This is always a difficult scenario for families. Families always want to be able to provide their kids with the latest football shirts. The only thing I know as a parent is that the football shirt gets worn more than any other item of clothing that a kid has.

“But obviously other people are guiding those prices, I don’t really know what the correct pricing should be. But I completely understand, from a parent's perspective, in this day and age, in particular this moment, where we are economically, that it’s a huge commitment to buy a shirt that is at a high price.”

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