Gareth Southgate speaks out on England kit controversy | Football

Southgate was quizzed on the ongoing row over the St George’s Cross (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate has spoken out on the ongoing row over the new England kit, insisting the furore surrounding the St George’s Cross ‘is not on his list of priorities’.

The new England kit, to be worn by the men’s senior side for the first time against Brazil on Saturday night, has caused major controversy on social media after Nike opted to make a ‘playful update’ on the design.

On the new shirt, the traditional red cross of the England flag on the back of the shirt’s collar has been replaced with purple and blue stripes introduced.

Nike have defended the redesign, which is based on England’s 1966 training kit, with the Football Association also standing its ground, dismissing any possibility of the new kit being recalled.

The kit has been met with heavy disapproval on social media with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer also critical of the design.

Speaking to reporters in his pre-match press conference on Friday night, however, Southgate insisted ‘the most important thing’ was that the iconic Three Lions crest remains front and centre.

‘It’s not been high on my list of priorities but it depends which bit it is,’ the England boss said.

The new England kit was released this week

The new kit will be worn by the men’s side for the first time on Saturday (Picture: Getty)

‘I don’t know if the debate is about the St George flag needing to be on the England shirt because it obviously hasn’t always been.

‘I think the most important thing that has to be on an England shirt are the three lions. It’s our iconic symbol.

‘It’s what distinguishes us not only from football teams around the world but from England rugby and England cricket. It’s the thing that when I put my kit on 30 years ago and looked in the mirror, the three lions really stood out.

‘Should we be tampering with the cross of St George? In my head, if it’s not a red cross on a white background it isn’t the cross of St George anyway.

‘So it’s a hard question to answer. It’s presumably some artistic take, which I’m not creative enough to understand, really.’

England take on Brazil on Saturday night before another friendly clash against Belgium on Tuesday.

MORE : Gareth Southgate responds to Man Utd speculation after England boss is tipped to take over at Old Trafford

MORE : England manager Gareth Southgate sends ‘best wishes’ to Kate Middleton after cancer diagnosis

MORE : Jordan Pickford insists England squad unaffected by Gareth Southgate rumours