EURO 2020: Czech Republic decides not to take a knee at European Championship

Instead, the team will gesture to the 'UEFA Respect' inscription on the left sleeve of its jerseys, as it did during its World Cup qualifier in Wales in March.

Czech Republic's head coach Jaroslav Silhavy (l) leads a training session on June 11, 2021 in Prague ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 competition.   -  AFP

The Czech Republic team will not take a knee as an anti-racism gesture before the kick-off of its European Championship matches, it said on Sunday.

Instead, the team will gesture to the 'UEFA Respect' inscription on the left sleeve of its jerseys, as it did during its World Cup qualifier in Wales in March.

The gesture of taking a knee became a controversy before the Euros got underway when England was booed by some of its fans in two friendlies for kneeling, while Ireland was also jeered in Hungary.

 

The Czechs said they wanted to "announce their position in advance" before their Group D match against England on June 22.

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"We want to fully concentrate on football and the sports side of things," head coach Jaroslav Silhavy said in a statement.

"I understand that these are important topics for the whole of society, and my team and I obviously condemn any and all displays of racism.

"But we talked this through back in March, agreed on our own show of support for the fight against racism, and we do not intend to change anything about that decision."

Croatia, which plays England on Sunday, did not take the knee either. Scotland, which hosts the Czechs on Monday, said it would join in the gesture only at the game against England at Wembley on Friday, out of solidarity.

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The Czech Football Association's president Petr Fousek said he "wholeheartedly" agreed with the team's decision.

"I believe every national team ought to be free to express themselves as they see fit," Fousek said.

"The UEFA Respect programme encompasses all the topics related to the fight against racism and any and all displays of discrimination that we want to emphasise."

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