Soccer

Scotland to take a knee before England game

Scotland captain Andy Robertson has confirmed his team will join England in taking the knee in an anti-racism gesture when the two sides meet at Wembley in Euro 2020 on June 18.

This U-turn follows their original statement on Thursday which said the team would collectively stand, rather than kneel, in their three Euro 2020 group matches.

This drew criticism from some politicians which prompted Scotland to meet again on Friday.

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Following internal talks, manager Steve Clarke and Robertson issued a statement on Friday saying they would now kneel with England.

Gareth Southgate’s squad were booed by a section of fans before both warm-up games at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium against Austria and Romania last week as they made the anti-racism gesture.

Politicians have waded into the debate with one Conservative Member of Parliament, Lee Anderson, claiming he will boycott watching England’s games at Euro 2020, adding “this is not the way” to stamp out racism.

Scotland met on Friday to discuss changing their approach, with Clarke saying they considered the “divisive and inaccurate comments” being directed at Scotland by “individuals and groups, whose views we denounce in the strongest terms” following their call to all stand.

Greg Hepburn, an SNP Councillor for Calton Ward, wrote on Twitter: “This is extremely misguided. Please take the knee and show solidarity. If we stand whilst England and others kneel we will only be giving one message and that is one of cowardice.”

The players have now agreed they will kneel against England, but stand at Hampden Park for their matches against Czech Republic and Croatia.

“We have 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,” Clarke said.

Scotland’s players switched to standing from taking the knee at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign in March.

Clarke at that time said the knee gesture had become “maybe a bit diluted” from the message they wanted to send.

“Our position was — and remains — that the focus must be on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and wider society,” Robertson said. “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 18.”

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