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Scotland will not take knee at Euro 2020 but pledge to ‘tackle racism’

The Guardian logo The Guardian 4 days ago Louise Taylor
a group of football players on a field: Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters

Scotland have decided against taking a knee during Euro 2020 but will continue to stand up to racism. Steve Clarke’s squad switched from kneeling before kick-off to standing before their World Cup qualifiers in March, with the manager claiming the impact of the former gesture had become “maybe a little bit diluted”.

Related: Nerves, hopes, dreams: why Euro 2020 will be a tournament like no other

The transition reflected a wider trend among Scottish Premiership clubs, who had replaced taking a knee with standing, but contrasts with an England squad determined to keep kneeling.

Clarke’s captain, Andy Robertson, stressed that Scotland’s commitment to helping eradicate discrimination was in no way diminished. “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,” said the Liverpool left-back.

“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.”

Scotland’s first opponents, the Czech Republic, will be without Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela on Monday at Hampden Park in the wake of a 10-match Uefa ban. He was found to have made racist comments to the Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara in Glasgow in March.

By Monday the Scotland centre-half Liam Cooper should have fully attuned himself to the similarities and sometimes stark contrasts between Clarke and his club manager at Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa. “At Leeds we’re very man for man but, under Steve, we have a different formation and tactics that work for us,” Cooper said. “But they’re both demanding managers that bring out the best in you. They leave you to express yourself and that’s been great for me. When you’ve worked with Marcelo you can work with any manager.”

Bielsa’s uniquely intense leadership style is largely responsible for the likelihood that Cooper and his Elland Road teammate Kalvin Phillips will be on opposite sides when England face Scotland at Wembley next Friday. “Marcelo’s 100% demanding,” said Cooper. “But he’s brought the best out in me and a lot of my teammates at Leeds. He’s taken my career to places I never thought possible.

“I have much to thank him for but I also have to thank Steve for showing a lot of faith in me, bringing me into the squad and letting me show what I can do. Steve gets the best out of this squad, 100%. He lets us express ourselves but, at the same time, he commands that level of respect which all managers need. This group have taken to him and listen to him. He’s been different class.”

Grant Hanley, Che Adams, David Marshall, Andrew Robertson are posing for a picture: Scotland captain Andy Robertson (right) says he and his teammates are committed to challenging discrimination. © Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters Scotland captain Andy Robertson (right) says he and his teammates are committed to challenging discrimination.

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