Croatia players will decide whether to join England in taking the knee
Croatia’s FA insists individual players CAN join England in taking the knee ahead of Euro 2020 opener if they want to… and video messages on the Wembley big screens will urge home fans NOT to boo their own players
- Croatia take on England at Wembley on Sunday in the teams’ Euro 2020 opener
- England players will take a knee before kick-off but Croatia unlikely to join them
- They stood when Belgium took a knee ahead of friendly match last week
- Croatian FA say it won’t be forced on the players and they will make decision
- England fans have booed the gesture at their two pre-Euro warm-up friendlies
- Fans have been urged to applaud and drown out any jeers at Wembley
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
Croatia will leave the decision on taking a knee to individual players when they face England on Sunday.
Zlatko Dalic’s squad opted against making the gesture before their final friendly with Belgium and are unlikely to change their stance at Wembley.
The Croatian Football Federation stated that they ‘strongly condemn any and all forms of discrimination’ but will not enforce kneeling on their team.
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
‘The players have a right to their own opinion on these topics, and that they also have a right to choose whether they want to engage in any activity,’ the statement read.
‘The players of the Croatian national team jointly decided ahead of the friendly match against Belgium that they will not take the knee, and they respectfully stood in silence during the kneeling of their Belgian colleagues.’
England’s players were booed by their own supporters at the Riverside Stadium for taking the knee before both friendlies this month.
Messages will be beamed on the Wembley screens asking fans to treat Gareth Southgate’s stars with respect.
Croatia’s statement added: ‘We respect the players’ stance on this and will not impose taking the knee as an obligation for Croatian players, as this gesture does not hold any symbolic ties to the fight against racism and discrimination in the context of Croatian culture and tradition.’
Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips take a knee before Sunday’s friendly with Romania
England manager Gareth Southgate has spoken eloquently about the reasons for the gesture
Meanwhile, there have been fresh calls to England fans to applaud when their teams takes the knee before the Croatia game to drown out any booing.
Its critics say the gesture has political overtones, but the players insist it is simply done to reinforce the message that racism and discrimination will not be tolerated.
Now, anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, the Football Supporters’ Association and England fans group Block 109 have called on fans to show their support to the team.
The statement read: ‘(Manager) Gareth Southgate and his England players have repeatedly stated that taking the knee is a symbol of the continuing battle against racial inequality. Jeering the players is also jeering what the gesture stands for.
‘Once players are in position to take the knee, Kick It Out and the FSA are asking fans to start their applause as early as possible, to show the players and the team we are all behind them, as they commence their Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday.’
Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett 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.
Southgate and his coaching team take a knee ahead of the pre-tournament friendly
‘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.’
A minority of England supporters have jeered the players for the gesture at recent games
Burnett’s counterpart at the FSA, Kevin Miles, said: ‘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.’
EACH COUNTRY’S STANCE TO THE KNEE AHEAD OF EURO 2020
Turkey – No confirmation, but not take the knee in recent games
Italy – No confirmation, but did not take against Czech Republic
Wales – Will take the knee
Switzerland – No confirmation, but did not take knee in recent games
Denmark – Will take the knee
Finland – Will take the knee
Belgium – Will take the knee
Russia – Will not take the knee
Netherlands – No confirmation, but players have been vocal in their BLM support
Ukraine – No confirmation, but no evidence to suggest they will
Austria – Will take the knee after joining England in act of solidarity during friendly
North Macedonia – No confirmation, but did not take the knee against Kazakhstan
England – Will take the knee
Scotland – No confirmation, players and staff to hold discussions
Croatia – Players given the choice; did not take the knee in most recent friendly game
Czech Republic – Will not take the knee
Spain – No confirmation, have avoided gesture in recent friendlies
Sweden – No confirmation, have avoided gesture in recent friendlies
Poland – Will not take the knee
Slovakia – Will not take the knee
Hungary – Will not take the knee, as was the case against Republic of Ireland
Portugal – No confirmation, but did take knee in recent Spain friendly
France – No confirmation, but star players are in favour of taking the knee
Germany – No confirmation, but did not take the knee in recent friendlies
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