A Tory MP has backed Scotland’s footballers decision not to take the knee before their Euro 2020 matches.
Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, welcomed the national side’s move in ‘taking a stand’ against racism.
He said he ‘applauded’ the sport stars finding something ‘we can all unite under’ rather than ‘a politically diverse and controversial measure’.
Supporters groups also said they were in favour of their country’s decision and backed the move.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) said it was up to the players but they supported them.
Scotland’s decision contradicts England’s as Gareth Southgate’s men have vowed to carry out the gesture before every game at the tournament.
This is despite boos from the stands in their previous two games against Austria and Romania.
It comes as a survey found fewer people north of the border support taking the knee than below it.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) said it was up to the players but they supported them. Pictured: Scotland players in March
Scotland’s decision contradicts England’s (pictured, Marcus Rashford) as Gareth Southgate’s men have vowed to carry out the gesture before every game at the tournament
Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, welcomed the national side’s move in ‘taking a stand’ against racism
Mr Clarke-Smith, who this week compared England’s players taking the knee to the national side’s infamous pre-WWII Nazi salute, weighed in on the Scotland verdict.
He told MailOnline: ‘Scotland have shown that they take a strong stance on tackling racism and stood in silence at the last round of international matches to demonstrate this.
‘I believe England and the other teams at the tournament all share this commitment too, but Scotland’s decision not to take the knee and to instead find something we can all unite under, rather than a politically diverse and controversial measure, is to be applauded.
‘I fully support Scotland, Steve Clarke, the players and the SFA on their approach and would encourage others to follow their lead.’
There had been talk of Steve Clarke’s squad joining England in a show of solidarity by taking the knee ahead of next Friday’s game at Wembley.
Clarke said he would speak to his players before deciding if they would reverse a decision taken in March to no longer take the knee.
They felt then that the symbol had become diluted. But the SFA have now revealed that their stance has not changed.
There had been talk of Steve Clarke’s squad (pictured this week) joining England in a show of solidarity by taking the knee ahead of next Friday’s game at Wembley
Paul Goodwin from the SFSA said it was up to the players to make their decision and his group supported them.
He said: ‘It’s up to individual players to make the decision over this. The right to do it is a collective one.
‘We at the SFSA are totally against racism, homophobia or discrimination of any kind in the sport.
‘The wider community is very divided over this. I don’t think we here qualify to make the decision for the team.’
He added: ‘The team have obviously got together to make the decision and we support that.’
Scotland’s football team released a statement announcing they would no longer take the knee this afternoon.
It said: ‘The Scotland Men’s National Team will continue to take a stand against racism prior to kick-off for all UEFA EURO 2020 matches.
‘The squad, coaching staff and backroom members will stand up to racism ahead of the Group D matches against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.’
Captain Andy Robertson added: ‘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.’
Captain Andy Robertson (right) 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’
But Southgate’s men have vowed to carry out the gesture in their continued stance against racism before every game at the tournament this summer.
This comes despite boos from fans in their previous two games against Austria and Romania.
They will face off against the Croatians at Wembley Stadium this weekend ahead of a highly-ancitipated tournament opener.
But their opponents will remain standing prior to kick off, with the country’s spokesman Tomislav Pacak indicating it is not required by UEFA’s protocols.
Croatia have never taken the knee in a senior match, although their Under-21 side did adopt the stance in this year’s European Championship when they faced England.
The world of sport has observed the gesture – popularised by American footballer Colin Kaepernick – for more than a year in response to the killing of George Floyd.
But the knee has been met with a mixed response since supporters have returned to stadiums following the ease of Covid restrictions.
The FA are unhappy with the Government for a lack of support for the England team after jeers were heard at the Riverside Stadium in back-to-back friendlies.
In a row that could overshadow the game against Croatia, boss Southgate and his players have continued to stress they are united in their desire to keep taking a knee.
England have continued to observe the gesture despite boos from their own supporters
Gareth Southgate has been adamant that his team will continue to take a knee before games
Meanwhile a YouGov poll published today said just 49 per cent of Scots back the gesture while 54 per cent do in England.
Meanwhile 39 per cent oppose the Three Lions doing it, while 42 per cent in Scotland do.
The survey, which asked more than 4,500 football fans across nine European countries, examined how fans view the gesture, and how important they think it is.
Fans across Europe were familiar with the sentiment behind the gesture, but nowhere more so than in the UK – including 88 per cent of ethnic minority Britons.
Some 92 per cent of fans in Wales say they are familiar with the reasons behind taking a knee, as were 90 per cent in England and 88 per cent in Scotland.
Among ethnic minority British fans support for it was at 78 per cent – including 58 per cent who ‘strongly support’ the gesture, the highest of all groups polled.
In the UK, support is broadly similar across English (54 per cent), Welsh (53 per cent) and Scottish (49 per cent) fans.
Opposition in the UK is higher among Scottish fans (42 per cent), but remains a minority, compared to 39 per cent of English fans and 37 per cent of Welsh.
EACH COUNTRY’S STANCE TO THE KNEE AHEAD OF EURO 2020
Turkey – No confirmation, but not take the knee in recent games
Italy – No confirmation, but did not take against Czech Republic
Wales – Will take the knee
Switzerland – No confirmation, but did not take knee in recent games
Denmark – Will take the knee
Finland – Will take the knee
Belgium – Will take the knee
Russia – Will not take the knee
Netherlands – No confirmation, but players have been vocal in their BLM support
Ukraine – No confirmation, but no evidence to suggest they will
Austria – Will take the knee after joining England in act of solidarity during friendly
North Macedonia – No confirmation, but did not take the knee against Kazakhstan
England – Will take the knee
Scotland – Will not be taking the knee after players and staff held discussions and deemed the gesture to have become ‘diluted.’
Croatia – Players given the choice; did not take the knee in most recent friendly game
Czech Republic – Will not take the knee
Spain – No confirmation, have avoided gesture in recent friendlies
Sweden – No confirmation, have avoided gesture in recent friendlies
Poland – Will not take the knee
Slovakia – Will not take the knee
Hungary – Will not take the knee, as was the case against Republic of Ireland
Portugal – No confirmation, but did take knee in recent Spain friendly
France – No confirmation, but star players are in favour of taking the knee
Germany – No confirmation, but did not take the knee in recent friendlies