Croatia’s national football team will not take a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opening match against England on Sunday, according to reports.
Gareth Southgate‘s men have vowed to carry out the gesture in their continued stance against racism before every game at the tournament this summer despite boos from fans in their previous two games against Austria and Romania.
They will face off against the Croatians at Wembley Stadium this weekend ahead of a highly-ancitipated tournament opener, but their opponents will remain standing prior to kick off, as reported by the Athletic, with the country’s spokesman Tomislav Pacak indicating that it is not required by UEFA’s protocols.
Croatia’s national football team do not plan to take a knee before their game against England.
England have continued to observe the gesture despite boos from their own supporters
Croatia have never taken the knee in a senior match to date, although their Under-21 side did adopt the stance during this year’s European Championship when they faced England.
The world of sport has observed the gesture – popularised by American football player Colin Kaepernick – for more than a year in response to the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman.
However, the knee has been met with a mixed response since supporters have returned to stadiums following the ease of Covid restrictions.
Sportsmail reported on Tuesday that the FA are unhappy with the Government for a lack of support for the England team after jeers were heard at the Riverside Stadium in back-to-back friendlies before kick off.
In a row that could overshadow the game against Croatia, boss Southgate and his players have continued to stress they are united in their desire to keep taking a knee.
The country’s spokeman has insisted that kneeling is not a requirement of UEFA’s protocols.
England’s Euro 2020 group opener against Croatia on Sunday is set to be held at Wembley.
The Three Lions coach admitted the booing ‘felt like criticism’ of his players.
‘It’s not something on behalf of our black players I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them and insisted they were not making a political gesture.
‘I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with,’ he said.
‘That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We’re supporting each other. I was pleased that was drowned out by the majority of the crowd.
Gareth Southgate has been adamant that his team will continue to take a knee before games.
‘We can’t deny the fact that it happened. I think the most important thing for our players to know is all their teammates and all the staff are very supportive.
‘I think the majority of people understand it. I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message. I suppose we’re seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.’
Meanwhile, Scotland boss Steve Clarke said his players would hold talks about whether or not they will take the knee before deciding their stance for the tournament. His team are Group D, alongside England.
Czech Republic, who are also in the group and face England on June 22, are also yet to decide on their stance, but have previously opted to point to the words ‘UEFA Respect’ on their football shirts as a mark of solidarity against discrimination.
Taking the knee was at the centre of ugly scenes in Budapest on Tuesday evening when Ireland players were roundly booed by home supporters for adopting the stance.
Hungary chose not to take the knee on Tuesday, while heir fans booed Republic of Ireland stars
The 7,000-strong crowd at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion jeered Irish players, as Hungary players continued to stand – pointing to the ‘Respect’ logo on the sleeve of their jerseys.
Speaking after the game, Ireland boss Stephen Kenny said: ‘The fact it was booed is incomprehensible, really, and it must be damaging for Hungary, with the Euros in Hungary. It’s disappointing and it doesn’t reflect well on Hungary, really, on Hungarian support. It doesn’t reflect well.
‘Our players wanted to do it. It’s important. It’s an important stance and I commend them for taking that stance.’