England fans attending matches during Euro 2020 have been urged to “drown out boos” when the team take the knee – but Scotland’s players will not be performing the anti-racism gesture.
Gareth Southgate said his Three Lions squad are determined “more than ever” to take the knee during their group games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic – and beyond, should they progress.
Scotland, however, will instead “stand up to racism” – something they’ve been doing before games since March after head coach Steve Clarke claimed the knee gesture had become “diluted”.
Liverpool full-back and Scotland captain Andy Robertson said: “It is important we continue to tackle the issue of racism and raise awareness of the need to change people’s mindsets but also their behaviours.
“Prior to our World Cup qualifiers in March, we spoke as a group and felt that taking a stand was the best way for us to show solidarity and also to reinforce the need for meaningful change in society.”
It came after Scottish Premiership clubs also changed gestures in a bid to reinforce the anti-racism message.
Scottish fans are more sceptical than most about whether players should take the knee, according to a new survey released on Thursday, with 49% in favour and 42% against.
That compares to 54% of English fans backing the move and 39% opposing it, while taking the knee remains overwhelmingly supported in other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Some England fans booed the gesture before two warm-up games in Middlesbrough, despite Southgate pleading with them not to and reiterating the team’s intention to continue taking the knee.
And now Kick It Out has urged fans not to boo the players when they take the knee, instead applauding them for the anti-racism message.
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.
“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.”
Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association, 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.”
Before England’s final warm-up game against Romania last week, Southgate said that his team were “really disappointed” by the booing that had occurred.
And following the match, Marcus Rashford reiterated that the players “believe it is the right thing to do”.
Rashford and teammate Raheem Sterling are among those to have been subjected to online racial abuse in recent months, prompting calls for social media companies to take stronger action against the accounts responsible.
Sporting bodies, clubs and players boycotted social media in protest of racial abuse on Twitter and Instagram.
On Monday, Downing Street urged football fans to be respectful of England players taking the knee but did not explicitly condemn supporters who booed before the recent games.
Premier League players and others have been taking the knee since last year when the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in America.
Athletes taking the knee was made famous by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016, who was protesting police violence against African Americans in the US.