Scotland’s players will take a knee alongside their England counterparts at next Friday’s Euro 2020 game at Wembley.
The squad switched to standing for the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign in March after head coach Steve Clarke claimed the knee gesture had become “a little bit diluted”.
However, in light of the public reaction from some over the last 24 hours, the squad will now show solidarity with their English opponents but will continue to stand for the other two group games, starting against the Czech Republic on Monday.
The decision to stand was initially in response to the high-profile incident involving Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara and Czech player Ondrej Kudela on March 18 at Ibrox.
Following that incident, Rangers and Celtic players stood in opposition to racism at the Old Firm game three days later, a gesture repeated by Scotland’s players the following week.
Both Scotland head coach Steve Clarke and captain Andy Robertson have issued open letters explaining their decision.
“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,” Clarke said.
“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.”
Robertson added the squad’s reasoning was to keep the focus on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and society.
“Our position was – and remains – that the focus must be on meaningful change to fight discrimination in football and wider society.
“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.”
England’s players have said they will continue to “take a knee” throughout Euro 2020, despite being booed by some supporters at the recent warmup friendlies.
Bullingham praises players for collective decision
Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the English FA, told Sky Sports News he was delighted to see Scotland and England’s players come together to discuss the decision ahead of next Friday’s showdown.
“We’ve been speaking to the Scots throughout and have a very good working relationship with them. Everything was the players’ decision,” Bullingham said.
“I’m delighted their players are working with our players. It’s never been a political gesture, it’s an act of equality.”
Bullingham also said he is hoping a video explaining why England are taking a knee at Euro 2020 will “galvanise” supporters heading into the tournament.
More football fans in Europe – including in England, Scotland and Wales – are supportive of players taking a knee than against it, but they are split over the gesture’s importance in tackling racism, according to a major survey.
Polling company YouGov has shared with Sky Sports News the results of a study of 4,500 football fans carried out across nine countries in March this year, during the football season.
Most nations and groups had more fans who supported players taking a knee, with opposition mostly coming from a vocal minority.
Fans were asked: In some countries, professional football players and staff have chosen to kneel at the beginning of each game to show their support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Would you support or oppose professional players and staff in your country kneeling before each game in this fashion?
In England, from a survey of 547 football fans, 54 per cent said they support players and staff taking a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Half of these people (27 per cent) said they strongly support it, with the other half somewhat supporting it.
Some 39 per cent of football fans in England said they opposed players taking a knee while seven per cent said they did not know. In the last fortnight, England players faced boos from some of their own fans attending their final two Euro 2020 warm-up games at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
In Scotland 49 per cent said they supported players taking a knee, with 42 per cent against from a survey of 352 football fans completed at the end of February. In Wales, from a sample of 308 football fans, 53 per cent said they were supportive of the gesture with 37 per cent opposing it.
Kick It Out reporting racism
Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.