Croatia ‘will not take knee’ against England in Euro 2020 opener

Croatia’s players and staff will not join their England counterparts in taking a knee before their Euro 2020 opener.

The Three Lions host 2018 World Cup-finalists Croatia at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with Gareth Southgate pledging his side will continue to kneel before matches throughout the summer tournament.

Although the gesture simply outlines England’s stance against racism in football and wider society, it was met with boos from a minority of fans during the friendlies with Austria and Romania last week.

Southgate and his players will take a knee directly before kick-off on Sunday, but they will not be joined by the Croatia contingent.

England players were booed by a minority of fans for taking a knee in recent fixtures

As reported by The Athletic, the country’s spokesperson Tomislav Pacak was reluctant to answer questions on taking the knee this week.

But he said taking part in the gesture is not required by UEFA’s protocols, while he highlighted the governing body does not involve politics in football.

Croatia’s decision is not a surprising one given they have never taken the knee and remained standing as Belgium’s players kneeled before their friendly on Sunday.

That being said, their Under-21 team observed the gesture when they faced the Young Lions in the U21 Euros earlier this year.

England, almost all Premier League players and many competitors in other sports have taken the knee over the last year following the murder of George Floyd by a white policeman in America.

The gesture was popularised some years earlier by then-NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

England boss Southgate has been an outspoken advocate of the need to address racial inequality, but witnessed his players booed by some fans during two friendlies at the Riverside Stadium last week.

Have Croatia misinterpreted the meaning of taking a knee? Comment below.

“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,” said Southgate.

“I think we have got a situation where some people seem to think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with.

“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.”

The Republic of Ireland were met with a chorus of boos by Hungary fans as they knelt before their 0-0 friendly draw on Tuesday.

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