STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Scotland players to ‘take the knee’ before England match

Andy Robertson and Steve Clarke reaffirmed the team's stance against racism but changed their plans.

Scotland players to ‘take the knee’ before England match SNS Group

Scotland players will “take the knee” before their Euro 2020 match against England – but plan to continue to “stand up against racism” in their other games at the tournament.

The national team decided to “stand up against racism”, rather than taking the knee, in March following a series of racist incidents in the Scottish game this season.

Ahead of the European Championships, the Scottish FA had announced that the players would continue with the stance throughout the tournament, including group games against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.

The announcement reignited debate around the issue, which has become a polarising topic in England in particular.

England staff and players have continued to take the knee as part of their own action against racism in sport, and were booed by some fans during Euro 2020 warm-up games, prompting manager Gareth Southgate to insist that his squad would continue during the tournament.

Scotland have now amended their plans, with manager Steve Clarke and captain Andy Robertson saying that the team will kneel before they play England to show unity with their opponents, while continuing their own approach to the issue in other matches.

Clarke said that he felt there had been an effort from some to “politicise or misinterpret” his players’ decision and reaffirmed the squad’s opposition to racism.

The national team boss said that the response had been agreed earlier this year after considered discussion and in conjunction with clubs including Rangers and Celtic after high-profile racist incidents.

“I explained in March the rationale behind the squad decision,” he said in a statement released on Friday.

“Not only is it consistent with the collective approach from Scottish football above but the purpose of taking the knee, to raise awareness and help eradicate racism in football and society, has been diluted and undermined by the continuation of abuse towards players.

“For the avoidance of doubt: me, my coaching staff, my players and my backroom team take a stand against racism and all forms of unacceptable and discriminatory behaviour across society. We do so to raise awareness of the ongoing problem but also as a reminder to those who have the ultimate power and responsibility to implement meaningful change. 

“In light of divisive and inaccurate comments being perpetuated by individuals and groups, whose views we denounce in the strongest terms, we have reflected today as a group. We remain committed to our principles of taking a stand but we must also be unequivocal in condemning the opportunistic false narrative being presented by some.

“We have therefore agreed that we will show solidarity with our counterparts in England, many of whom are teammates of our own players, and who have found themselves on the receiving end of abuse from fans in recent international matches. 

“We will continue to take a stand – together, as one – for our matches at Hampden Park. For our match at Wembley, we will stand against racism and kneel against ignorance.”

Scotland captain Andy Robertson added: “Our position was – and remains – that the focus must be on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and wider society.

“In Scotland, the football family has stood against racism all season. It was our collective view that the national team would do the same.

“Our stance is that everyone, players, fans, teams, clubs, federations, governing bodies and governments must do more. Meaningful action is needed if meaningful change is to occur.

“But it is also clear, given the events around the England national team, taking the knee in this tournament matters as a symbol of solidarity.

“For this reason, we have collectively decided to again take the knee as a team for the fixture against England at Wembley Stadium.

“The Scotland team stands against racism but we will kneel against ignorance and in solidarity on June 18th.”

Scotland play Czech Republic at Hampden on June 14 before travelling to face England at Wembley four days later. The last group game is at Hampden against Croatia on June 22.