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Europe divided on taking the knee throughout EURO 2020 soccer match

Footballers are sometimes derided for diving throughout matches in a bid to cheat the referee into awarding a free kick or a penalty.

However, as EURO 2020 kicks off on Friday, some will hope failing to remain on each toes will win them newfound respect.

A handful of groups look set to take the knee earlier than matches as a present of help for racial justice.

The gesture started 5 years in the past when American soccer star Colin Kaepernick started kneeling to spotlight racism. It unfold to Europe within the aftermath of the police homicide of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis final 12 months.

So what have European groups mentioned taking the knee at EURO 2020?


England supervisor Gareth Southgate has mentioned his gamers are “extra decided than ever” to proceed taking the knee.

Their anti-racism gesture have been met with boos — and a few applause — from England supporters at latest video games in opposition to Austria and Romania.

“We really feel greater than ever decided to take the knee all through this match,” mentioned Southgate. “We settle for that there could be an antagonistic response however we’ll simply ignore that and transfer forwards.”

Defender Luke Shaw has additionally backed the transfer.

“All of us agree that it was the appropriate factor to hold on taking the knee,” he mentioned “It is so simple as that. We’ll maintain doing that and we consider in that. We can’t cease.”


Croatia, England’s opponents in Group D of the match, have determined to not kneel, as proven within the latest pleasant with Belgium.

“The Croatian Soccer Federation and the Croatian nationwide crew strongly condemn any and all types of discrimination. We additionally respect the appropriate of each particular person and each organisation to pick the circumstances and the style through which they’ll take a stand in opposition to racism and/or different types of discrimination,” the federation mentioned in an announcement to Euronews.

“The Croatian Soccer Federation believes that the gamers have a proper to their very own opinion on these matters and that additionally they have a proper to decide on whether or not they need to have interaction in any exercise. The gamers of the Croatian nationwide crew collectively determined forward of the pleasant match in opposition to Belgium that they won’t take the knee, and so they respectfully stood in silence through the kneeling of their Belgian colleagues.

“The Croatian Soccer Federation respects their stance on this and won’t impose taking the knee as an obligation for Croatian gamers, as this gesture doesn’t maintain any symbolic ties to the struggle in opposition to racism and discrimination within the context of Croatian tradition and custom.

“Basically, we consider a very powerful factor is the truth that Croatian internationals have performed themselves respectfully all through their careers and that they’ve proven by their behaviour that they respect all people, opponents, and teammates, no matter race, faith, social standing, ethnicity, or another attribute, which is a price that can also be promoted by the Croatian Soccer Federation.”


Scotland, additionally in Group D, are in opposition to taking the knee, believing the gesture will not be bringing about significant change.

However, in solidarity with their neighbours and rivals England, they’ll kneel earlier than the pair play one another at Wembley on June 18.

“I defined in March the rationale behind the squad determination [not to take the knee]: not solely is it according to the collective method from Scottish soccer above however the goal of taking the knee, to boost consciousness and assist eradicate racism in soccer and society, has been diluted and undermined by the continuation of abuse in the direction of gamers,” mentioned head coach Steve Clarke.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson mentioned: “In Scotland, the soccer household has stood in opposition to racism all season. It was our collective view that the nationwide crew would do the identical.

“Our stance is that everybody, gamers, followers, groups, golf equipment, federations, governing our bodies and governments should do extra. Significant motion is required if significant change is to happen.”

Czech Republic

Earlier this 12 months, Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela was accused of racially abusing a participant at Scottish facet Rangers.

Within the aftermath of that controversy, the Czech FA clarified its place on taking the knee.

“The administration of the Czech nationwide soccer crew along with the Soccer Affiliation of the Czech Republic need to collectively announce that the nationwide crew will take a impartial apolitical stance to sure matters which have been resonating within the sports activities setting. This specifically considerations the Black Lives Matter (BLM) initiative, through which some gamers kneel earlier than soccer matches.

“To specific their help for the struggle in opposition to racism and different shows of discrimination, xenophobia and antisemitism, the Czech nationwide crew will level to the UEFA Respect inscription on the left sleeve of their jerseys, referring to the UEFA marketing campaign of the identical identify, earlier than the match in Wales [on March 30, 2021].”


French gamers, together with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, have been pictured kneeling earlier than a latest pleasant sport with Wales.

Nonetheless, it is unclear what they’ll do at EURO 2020. France’s soccer federation didn’t reply to Euronews’ requests to make clear.


Belgium’s gamers, together with Inter Milan star Romelu Lukaku, have been photographed taking the knee earlier than a EURO 2020 warm-up match in opposition to Greece.


Hungary’s soccer affiliation (MLSZ) launched an announcement earlier this month: “UEFA and FIFA guidelines don’t enable any politics on the pitch and within the stadium, and MLSZ not solely accepts this but additionally agrees with it. The nationwide crew is not going to kneel earlier than matches to specific that they condemn any type of hatred.”

Throughout a latest pleasant match with the Republic of Eire in Budapest — one of many venues for EURO 2020 — followers allegedly booed Irish gamers for kneeling.

Eire coach Stephen Kenny known as the boos “incomprehensible” and “damaging” to Hungary’s repute.

Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban, weighing in on the problem, defended the house followers in Budapest, saying the struggle in opposition to racism “has no place on a sports activities subject”.

“It’s not an answer” to convey such an ethical and historic “burden” in a rustic like Hungary which “has by no means been involved with the slave commerce”, he mentioned.

“In case you are invited to a rustic, make an effort to know its tradition and don’t provoke native residents,” he added.


Austria’s gamers joined English ones in taking a knee within the latest pleasant between the pair, though it’s unclear if the crew will proceed the gesture through the match.


Their gamers took the knee earlier than a latest pleasant with Albania however the Welsh soccer affiliation, contacted by Euronews, didn’t reply to requests to make clear intentions through the forthcoming match.

What does UEFA say?

UEFA has mentioned it helps gamers in taking a knee and has urged followers to help groups in doing so.

“UEFA has a zero-tolerance in opposition to racism and any participant who desires to demand equality amongst human beings by taking the knee will likely be allowed to take action,” a spokesperson advised Euronews. “We urge spectators to indicate respect for groups and gamers taking the knee.”


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