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Scotland players to stand against racism ahead of Austria game

Scotland v Israel – UEFA Euro 2020 – Play-Offs – Semi Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Scotland players will stand against racism ahead of their game against Austria in a bid to call for action and change.

The likes of Motherwell, Dundee United, Celtic and Rangers stood ahead of their Scottish Premiership games at the weekend rather than take the knee and Scotland will do the same in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier at Hampden.

Celtic and Rangers players stood united in solidarity with Ibrox midfielder Glen Kamara after he reported “vile racist abuse” during a Europa League clash. UEFA is investigating the matter after Slavia Prague player Ondrej Kudela denied the accusation.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke told Sky Sports News: “I think recent events and past events tell you that you have to keep changing people’s mindsets and reminding them.

“The knee, when it was first taken, was a really powerful symbol. It has maybe become a little bit diluted.

“There have been some high-profile cases recently and the abuse is still there, and it’s not acceptable.

“Maybe just taking a stand, as opposed to taking a knee, will just waken everyone up. If we go to sleep, it will never go away, we have to keep confronting it and pushing forward, and making sure in years to come racism of any form is not acceptable.”

Clarke’s assistant, Steven Reid, believes the move will reinforce calls for action.

“People are getting fed up of everything that’s going on over the last year to 18 months,” Reid told a media conference.

“Now it’s time for firm action, incidents getting punished properly when people are found guilty. That’s what the players want to see.

“We are fully supportive of the team and the decision that’s been made.”

Reid believes taking the knee has registered but he added: “People want to see firm action and probably one or two are probably fed up that action has not been taken quick enough.

“If there was an incident like some we have seen in the past, we would have to be fully supportive of the players. And if that’s to walk off the pitch, that’s what they would be allowed to do.

“And I think it’s incidents like that that are going to be the real incidents that define how we are going to move forward.

“I think personally and collectively everyone has had enough of token fines here and there, it’s about proper fines and proper bans, whatever it might be, but some severe punishments.

“It’s action not only in punishments but also action in the diversity of big organisations and decision-makers, whether that be coaching roles, administration roles.”

Scotland centre-back Declan Gallagher explained the rationale behind Motherwell’s decision ahead of their game on Saturday.

“Devante Cole came up to me and basically said a few of the boys wanted to take a stand,” the Fir Park skipper said.

“I then believed if they wanted to take a stand then we had to take a stand together. I don’t think it’s fair that some people take a knee and others stand. Whatever we do, we have to show solidarity and togetherness.

“We had a discussion as a team and the boys were happy to stand.

“The players wanted to change something, they felt the message of taking a knee wasn’t working any more. As you can see there are still incidents creeping up in the game, which isn’t nice to see, so everyone wanted to stand united.”

Gallagher added: “As footballers, we have got that world stage and we can set that example.

“That’s something we will do on Thursday night, standing and showing we are sticking together and not going to tolerate the likes of what happened to Kamara. It’s not on and there’s no place for it in football.”