Soccer

Croatia players to refuse to take the knee ahead of England game at Euro 2020

The Croatian Football Federation have explained just why their players won't take a knee before Sunday's clash with England.

Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad have decided they want to continue with the gesture even though they face the danger of it being loudly booed by supporters.

But Croatia's players have decided it's not for them and won't be following suit before the Euros clash at Wembley.

A statement from the CFF explains that they respect the right of all individuals to make their own choice and their players decided against it.

They didn't observe it in their last game against Belgium but insist it's not in any way disrespectful.

The statement said: “The Croatian Football Federation and Croatia's internationals always say no to discrimination and racism and firmly stand against that but we also respect the right of every individual organisation to choose how and and when and in which manner to take a stand against racism.

“So we believe all of our players have a right to have their own opinion and to choose whether to take part in activities such as this.

“Our players chose against the match against Belgian, that they will not be taking the knee, but they did respectfully wait for their Belgian counterparts to take take part in that action.”

It continues: “We respect players' decisions, and because this gesture does not symbolise anti racism or the fight against discrimination in the context of Croatian culture, we will not be imposing this as a mandatory measure.

“But we think the most important thing is that all of our players have shown throughout their careers, with they conduct that they respect everyone, every opponent, every teammate regardless of their race, their religion or any other things, and that they've shown that they take a stand against racism, which is something that we as an FA firmly agree with and hold the same value as well.”

FA chief Mark Bullingham has pleaded with supporters to show respect to the players for making a stand.

He was shocked at the hostile reception to the kneeling in the warm-up games against Austria and Romania.

Bullingham said: "I think it's incredibly disappointing. We've been clear throughout — this is not a political gesture the team is making.

"They are standing up for equality and they're using a gesture that's been around for hundreds of years, and they're using it just to make a stance against racism. We're not asking every fan to copy that gesture, just respect it."

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