London (AFP) – Scotland players will take a stand in an anti-racism gesture ahead of their three Euro 2020 group matches rather than taking the knee, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced on Thursday.
The Scotland 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”.
The move followed several Scottish Premiership clubs switching gestures in a bid to reinforce the anti-racism message in the aftermath of the racial abuse suffered by Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara in a Europa League match against Slavia Prague.
Slavia defender Ondrej Kudela received a 10-match ban from UEFA for the comments he made to Kamara in March, ruling him out of the tournament for the Czechs.
England players and staff have committed to keep taking the knee as a sign of protest against racial prejudice during the tournament despite being booed by some of their own supporters during warm-up friendlies against Austria and Romania.
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.”
The Kudela ban adds extra tension to the opening clash between Scotland and the Czech Republic on Monday.
His Slavia teammate Nicolae Stanciu was one of two Romanian players not to take the knee against England, claiming Kudela had been banned “without evidence”.
On the field, Clarke has his full 26-man squad available again after John Fleck returned to training on Thursday.
Fleck had been isolating in a hotel room in Spain since testing positive for coronavirus during a training camp last week.
“The camp’s in a very good place now. We had two days back home, we came in and got tested right away and sent to our rooms. Thankfully everyone came back negative,” said striker Kevin Nisbet.
“It’s great that Flecky is back. He obviously had a tough time testing positive and he has just been in his room ever since. So he got a wee round of applause this morning from the boys.”
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