Scotland will now join England in a show of solidarity by taking the knee at Wembley after reversing their original decision.
Manager Steve Clarke and captain Andy Robertson said on Thursday that they would continue to take a stand against racism – as they have done since March – rather than kneeling before matches, a symbol they believe has become ‘diluted’.
Scotland’s stance on not taking the knee will remain the same for their two other Euro 2020 group matches at Hampden Park, but Robertson has revealed that the recent booing of England’s players before matches has caused a rethink among their squad.
‘Our position was – and remains – that the focus must be on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and wider society,’ said the Liverpool defender.
‘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.’
Scotland have reversed their decision to not take a knee when they play England next week
A minority of England supporters have jeered the players for the gesture at recent games
Clarke, meanwhile, was disappointed with the reaction among some to Scotland’s decision this week not to take the knee at Euro 2020, as he explained: ‘I am aware that some individuals and groups have sought to politicise or misrepresent the Scotland National Team position on taking a stand against racism and all forms of discriminatory behaviour in our Euro 2020 matches and, in particular, for our visit to Wembley.
‘It is incumbent on me as the Head Coach to reiterate that we have done so from our first FIFA World Cup qualifiers and that it has been done in conjunction with clubs across Scottish football including Rangers and Celtic.
‘I explained in March the rationale behind the squad decision: not only is it consistent with the collective approach from Scottish football, but the purpose of taking the knee, to raise awareness and help eradicate racism in football and society, has been diluted and undermined by the continuation of abuse towards players.
‘For the avoidance of doubt: me, my coaching staff, my players and my backroom team take a stand against racism and all forms of unacceptable and discriminatory behaviour across society. We do so to raise awareness of the ongoing problem but also as a reminder to those who have the ultimate power and responsibility to implement meaningful change.
‘In light of divisive and inaccurate comments being perpetuated by individuals and groups, whose views we denounce in the strongest terms, we have reflected today as a group. We remain committed to our principles of taking a stand but we must also be unequivocal in condemning the opportunistic false narrative being presented by some.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke admitted the decision to take a knee at Wembley was taken on reflection after some ‘divisive’ and ‘inaccurate’ comments following their initial announcement to continue standing
‘We have therefore agreed that we will show solidarity with our counterparts in England, many of whom are team-mates of our own players, and who have found themselves on the receiving end of abuse from fans in recent international matches.
‘We will continue to take a stand – together, as one – for our matches at Hampden Park. For our match at Wembley, we will stand against racism and kneel against ignorance.’
Scotland’s change of stance comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged supporters to stop booing the Black Live Matters act after England fans jeered the national team when they made the gesture before their Euro 2020 warm-up matches.
Asked to give a categorical answer on whether Mr Johnson supported the England team taking a knee, the premier’s official spokesman said: ‘Yes. The Prime Minister respects the rights of all people to peacefully protest and make their feeling known about injustices.
‘I think the Prime Minister has spoken before about his desire for everybody to get behind the national team and as I said, the PM would like to see everyone getting behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.’
England manager Gareth Southgate has stressed they remain united in their desire to keep taking a knee and 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,’ Southgate said.
‘I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with.
Boris Johnson (right) has today urged football fans to stop booing players taking the knee
‘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.
‘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.’
Taking the knee before games has seen a mixed response since fans have been allowed back into stadiums while some clubs decided to stop making the gesture before games before the end of last season.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to stop kneeling, citing that it had ‘lost all meaning’ and was ‘degrading’ as he opted to ‘stand against racism’ instead.
Earlier on this week, Southgate was criticised by England legend John Barnes, who claimed he ‘does not understand how complex racism is’ in a furious rant on Twitter about taking the knee.
England manager Gareth Southgate has spoken eloquently about the reasons for the gesture
Croatia will leave decision to take a knee to individual players for Sunday’s game with England
The former Three Lions star hit out at the national team boss over his insistence that the players will continue to make the gesture as they have a duty to ‘raise awareness’ over racism and inequality.
Barnes, who was a prominent figure in England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990, wrote in response to one follower: ‘Of course he should support his players… but what does HE think… forget the players… that’s what an ally is… someone who believes HE’S doing the right thing, not one who follows the crowd, as the crowd may change direction.’
In another comment, he said: ‘I’m 100% behind Gareth to try to win the euros but he doesn’t understand how complex racism is and solutions are even more complicated and he and the team are being used by the system to DEFLECT from REAL inequality in the inner cities by SOLELY focusing and concentrating on football.’
England’s Euro 2020 opponents on Sunday Croatia, meanwhile, are set to leave the decision on taking a knee to individual players.
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.
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 – Initially were going to continue to ‘take a stand’ but have now made a U-turn and will take the knee
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