Zagreb: Croatian players are under no obligation to take a knee before Euro 2020 games, the country’s football federation announced, saying that the gesture was not relevant in the Balkans.
Croatia play their tournament opener against England, who will take a knee, on Sunday in London. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularised the gesture in 2016 and it has been widely use as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Belgium players took a knee in the recent friendly with Croatia, who decided against the gesture. Croatia “respectfully stood in silence during the kneeling of their Belgian colleagues”, a federation statement said. The federation respects the Croatian players’ stance and will not impose the gesture as an obligation since “in Croatian culture and tradition it does not symbolise the fight against racism and discrimination”, it said.
Premier League players have been taking a knee before kick-off since the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in the United States last year.
Group D also features Scotland and the Czech Republic.