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Croatia Players Will Not Take Knee Before Euro 2020 Opener Against England At Wembley

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Croatia Players Will Not Take Knee Before Euro 2020 Opener Against England At Wembley

Croatia players do not intend to take the knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opening fixture against England at Wembley on Sunday.

The pre-kick-off gesture to promote racial equality will be carried out by England players throughout the tournament, despite booing from sections of their own support in two warm-up games against Austria and Romania.

However Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, have confirmed that they do not plan on joining their opponents by taking the knee in the first Group D game this weekend.

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Croatia's media officer, Tomislav Pacak, declined to answer questions on the subject when asked by The Athletic in a pre-tournament press conference.

However he later confirmed to Croatian reporters that the national team did not intend to take the knee, telling them that it was not part of UEFA's protocols and that European football's governing body is against introducing politics into sport.

Croatia did not join Belgium's players in taking the knee before their final pre-tournament friendly match on Sunday, so their stance is no surprise.

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The argument put forward by England manager Gareth Southgate and many of his players is that it is not a political gesture, but rather a symbol of tolerance and solidarity against racist abuse.

In response to a sizeable minority of England fans booing the players at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday, Southgate expressed his disappointment but said the team will continue taking a knee throughout Euro 2020.

"I think you have to put yourself in the shoes of a young England player about to represent his country," said Southgate post-match. "We're all trying to move towards equality and support our own teammates because of some of the experiences they've been through in their lives, but people decided to boo.

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"I think those people should put themselves in the shoes of those young players. If that was their children - if they're old enough to have children - how would they feel about their kids being in that situation?

"The most important thing for our players is for them to know we are totally united on it. We're totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team, and we feel more than ever that we are determined to take the knee throughout this tournament."

The Czech Republic and Scotland, the other teams in Group D, have yet to confirm whether they will take part this summer.

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The Scotland manager Steve Clarke said at the weekend: "It's a conversation I'll have with the players before we play our first game.

"Then we'll decide what way we're going to do it throughout the Euros."

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Football, Euro 2020, Croatia, England

Alex Reid
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