Croatia will not take the knee against England in their Euro 2020 Group D opener at Wembley on Sunday, according to reports, which has divided opinion online with the Three Lions booed for such actions against Romania.
In Gareth Southgate’s men’s last friendly before the tournament, which gets underway on Friday, they were booed by their own fans at the Riverside Stadium for the action which was dubbed “Marxist” and linked to Black Lives Matter.
A subsequent media storm has seen the likes of Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand call the boo boys “ignorant”, while Gary Lineker has also chimed in.
Commenting on the matter, Southgate said: “[The] most important thing for our players is to know we are totally united on it. We are totally committed to supporting each other, supporting the team.
“We feel more than ever determined to take the knee through this tournament.
“We accept that there might be an adverse reaction and we are just going to ignore that and move forward.”
🗣️ “You have to put yourself in the shoes of a young player about to represent his country”🗣️ “We are determined more than ever to take a knee in this tournament” Gareth Southgate reiterates his sadness of some #ENG fans booing the players taking a knee v Austria pic.twitter.com/1gks5OQakM
🗣 “Kick It Out & Football Supporters Association are devising a plan to drown out any possible booing from England supporters.”@RobDorsettSky reports that there is a plan to stop the sound of boos when players take the knee at #Euro2020pic.twitter.com/PKMG36mEmR
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 8, 2021
Meanwhile racism campaigners Kick it Out are looking into alternative means of drowning out the abuse by cheering “England!” instead.
Croatia’s team spokesman Tomislav Pacak turned down the chance to answer questions from the outlet and instead invited enquiries at an upcoming pre-match press conference prior to the match on Sunday.
To Croatian media, though, he has confirmed that his country’s national team do not plan to take a knee for the duration of Euro 2020.
Furthermore, Pacak said that UEFA protocols make no mention of the political gesture while claiming the European governing body opposes the introduction of politics into sport.
Naturally on such a hot topic, opinion has been divided on the latest developments.
“England fans’ heads must be exploding trying to figure how to boo England, cheer Croatia but make sure the England team know the cheers aren’t for them,” remarked one wise-cracker.
“[Imagine] the scenes when they run it down England’s end and score before England’s players get up,” pondered another.
England fans heads must be exploding trying to figure how to boo England, cheer Croatia but make sure the England team know the cheers aren’t for them.
— John kennedy (@johnskiebeats) June 9, 2021
The scenes when they run it down England’s end and score before England’s players get up
— Ray Skeates (@PisstakeRhaiadr) June 9, 2021
“All the English fans who are against it can support Croatia instead,” it was suggested.
“Maybe they could leave the UK and live there too, seeing as they hate our country so much.”
All the English fans who are against it can support Croatia instead. Maybe they could leave the UK and live there too, seeing as they hate our country so much.
— Long Legged Mac Daddy (@9inchtails) June 9, 2021
Yet those that aren’t fans of the knee popped up too.
“Good decision,” said one.
“Taking the knee has become more of a cool thing to do rather than anything important.”
“Good for them, our lot can kneel forever. It won’t make a sh*t of difference,” began a like-minded critic.
I’ll be rooting for Croatia against England then 😂
— Ben Corke 🇬🇧 (@bencorke) June 9, 2021
“There will sadly always be a few who hide behind their computers sat in there pants dishing out stupid ‘racist’ comments.
“Until someone ends up with a three year stretch [in prison] or longer it will continue,” he predicted.
That’s up to them. It isn’t scandalous or sensational it’s just their choice. Croatia won’t be booing the English players for taking the knee however they can let others peacefully protest without resorting to pantomime efforts to undermine and important message.
— PointlessSword (@PointlessSword) June 9, 2021
Calmer heads pointed out that the move is “up to them”.
“It isn’t scandalous or sensational it’s just their choice.”
“Croatia won’t be booing the English players for taking the knee, however they can let others peacefully protest without resorting to pantomime efforts to undermine and important message.”
“I support Croatia for their ‘stance’. Gareth and the boys won’t know who’s getting the boos,” declared one, as another Englishman said “I’ll be rooting for Croatia against England then” alongside a crying-with-laughter emoji.
Come kick off then, all eyes will be on fans and players alike to gauge their stance.