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Scotland make alternative to taking the knee at the Euros

Scotland make a decision whether or not to take a knee at the Euros after players for both England and Ireland were met with backlash lately.

England players were booed by fans against Romania on Sunday, whilst the same happened before Ireland kicked off against Hungary as they took the knee in a protest against discrimination.

Scotland players will “stand up to racism” at Euro 2020 rather than take the knee before matches.

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It was way back in March that Scotland switched to standing in a show against racism, after head coach Steve Clarke claimed the knee gesture had become “maybe a little bit diluted”.

The nation’s squad, coaching staff and backroom members have since been standing ahead of kick-off to show solidarity in the fight against racism.

Andy Robertson, Scotland’s captain: “It is important we continue to tackle the issue of racism and raise awareness of the need to change people’s mindsets but also their behaviours.

“Prior to our World Cup qualifiers in March we spoke as a group and felt that taking a stand was the best way for us to show solidarity and also to reinforce the need for meaningful change in society.”

What are other teams in the group doing?

England have of course made it clear they will take a knee ahead of all games in the face of booing from sections of their own support.

Croatia’s players have stated that they do not intend to take a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against England on Sunday.

The 2018 World Cup runners-up don’t plan to join their opening opponents in performing the gesture to promote racial equality.

A spokesman for the Czech Republic team meanwhile told The Athletic that their footballers would also discuss their stance before their opening game against Scotland on Monday.

What are the origins of ‘taking a knee’?

An image of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King going down on one knee while in prayer at a march in 1965 is well known, but in a sporting context the gesture was first used as a form of protest by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Kaepernick initially sat and later knelt during the American National Anthem to protest against racism and police brutality in the US.

Following the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer in May 2020, taking a knee became linked with the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that occurred around the world, although England’s players have stressed that they will take a knee to promote equality rather than any political movement.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said Boris Johnson “supports individuals’ right to protest” by taking the knee in order to “make their feelings known about injustices.”

After being asked if he would condemn the booing, the spokesman said: “[The PM] would want all England fans to be respectful in any football match, and as I’ve said he respects the right of those who want to peacefully protest in this way.”

The PM has previously said he would not take the knee himself, the spokesman said, adding: “The PM is more focused on actions rather than gestures.”

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Meanwhile, Kick It Out and FSA said in a joint-statement on Thursday: “Jeering the players is also jeering what the gesture stands for.

Kick It Out and FSA’s initiative had considered chanting before kick-off, with “Kick it out” or “England, England!” both potential options, but the organisations have called on those attending the match to applaud when the referee blows his whistle and the players bend down.

Tony Burnett, Kick It Out CEO, said: “Gareth Southgate and the England players have made their position really clear – they are taking the knee as an anti-discrimination gesture, it is in no way linked to any political organisation.

“All of us England fans, myself included, want to see England succeed in the Euros, so we are asking for fans at the games to drown out boos with applause and show the players we are behind them.

“For those fans who have booed or want to boo, we would urge you to think about how that impacts the players – the same players who we want to bring England success in this tournament.

“The real issue we all want to address is tackling discrimination in football, and that is something we can and should all get behind. So let’s support the team, support the players and unite against racism and all forms of discrimination.”

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles added: “Fans who turn up to support the England team and make their first act after the referee’s whistle booing their own team’s stance against racism, should be ashamed of themselves.

“We stand with those supporters who have reacted positively by applauding the players taking part in their demonstration.

“The boos are particularly disappointing given that just 20 months ago England fans took a strong stance against racism – backing their players during an onslaught of racist abuse directed at every black England player from the Bulgarian crowd in Sofia.

“We would urge everyone to show solidarity once more by supporting the team, supporting the players and supporting the knee.”

Kunal Sapat, founder of England fan group Block 109, said: “Our aim at Block 109 is to show support to the England team on and off the pitch.

“We are against all forms of discrimination and with this being the most important tournament on home soil for a generation and our best chance to win a trophy, we urge fans to show positive support to our players taking the knee in the fight against racism.”

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