Divided nations: The 24 teams at the Euros and their attitudes to taking a knee gesture

·4-min read
Players from France and Wales all kneeled ahead of their recent friendly in Paris - REUTERS
Players from France and Wales all kneeled ahead of their recent friendly in Paris - REUTERS

It is not only Prime Minister Boris Johnson who believes footballers should not necessarily take the knee ahead of football matches, many of those teams competing at this month's Euros also oppose the gesture.

Supporting the knee

Austria
Joined England in act of solidarity by taking a knee in the recent friendly.

Belgium
Players will take a knee at the Euros. Romelu Lukaku said he would ignore negative reactions. “I don’t care. I fight for diversity. Not only for the black community, also for the women. Colour, sexuality, faith, it doesn’t matter. Everybody should be respected,” the striker said.

England
Gareth Southgate says his players are more determined than ever to take the knee: “The most important thing for our players is to know that we are totally united on it.”

Finland
Players took a knee before their recent Nations Cup tie with Wales. “The whole team stood behind it,” said captain Tim Sparv. “All the players and the backroom staff wanted to oppose racism.”

France
The French took the knee in last week’s friendly against Wales in Paris, continuing the support of their star players for the gesture.

Wales
Took a knee in Paris and alongside Albania in Cardiff on Sunday. Robert Page, the interim manager, said: “We had a meeting and we all think it’s still important to take the knee. That’s the message we’ve given out. We’re all in it together and there were no issues.”

Anti-knee

Croatia
Players elected to stand and watch as Belgium took the knee during Sunday night’s friendly.

Czech Republic
The Czech FA announced in March that players were taking a “neutral apolitical stance” concerning the Black Lives Matter initiative. The recent 10-game ban of Ondrej Kudela for racist behaviour appears to have strengthened resolve not to support taking the knee.

Hungary
The Hungarian federation recently issued a written reprimand to a player of African origin who showed his undershirt with the words “Justice for George Floyd” after scoring a goal. Support for BLM does not appear high on its agenda.

Poland
Ahead of the World Cup qualifier with England in March, the head of the Polish FA, Zbigniew Boniek, made his position clear on whether his players should take the knee: “I am absolutely against such gestures.”

Russia
The Russian players did not take a knee against Bulgaria on Saturday and there is no suggestion they intend to at the Euros.

Slovakia
Slovakian players took a knee before games with the Republic of Ireland and Scotland last October. After criticism in the Slovakian parliament, the Slovakian football hierarchy claimed it was told to do so by Uefa and has not done so since.

Spain
Many La Liga players have shown solidarity with the BLM movement over the past 12 months, but the Spanish players did not take the knee against Portugal on Saturday and have no plans to do so at Euro 2020.

Ukraine
As with many Eastern European countries, there has been no evidence of support for taking the knee prior to international matches.

Uncertains

Italy
Last summer, Serie A players took the knee. The national team did not do so against the Czech Republic in last week’s friendly.

North Macedonia
Beat Kazakhstan 4-0 in their final warm-up last weekend. The players from both teams did not take a knee before kick-off.

Portugal
The Portugal players did take a knee against Spain on Saturday, although many European-based players have done so over the past year.

Sweden
Did not take a knee before their friendly against Armenia on Saturday.

Switzerland
Did not take the knee in recent games. Have not revealed plans for the Euros.

Turkey
Did not take the knee in recent games. Have not revealed plans for the Euros.

Previous supporters who have reconsidered or broadened their stance

Denmark
Players defied opposition at home to take the knee against Belgium and England last autumn. “We all support the fight against all forms of racism,” said captain Christian Eriksen. But in March, the Danish FA joined with Holland in the “Football supports CHANGE” initiative, protesting the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Germany
Bundesliga players led the way in taking the knee in support of BLM last summer but, like other European countries, have opted for a broader message in support of human rights in more recent months. German players did not take a knee in last week’s warm-up game.

Holland
Many high-profile players have been vocal in their BLM support, but they did not take the knee against Georgia on Sunday. Earlier this season, the Dutch joined the Germans and Danes in backing the human rights initiative, targeting Qatar.

Scotland
Players took the knee in recent qualifiers, but did not in their friendly against Luxembourg. Manager Steve Clarke says discussions are ongoing: “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 tournament.”

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