Italian and Austrian teams to remain standing before kick-off in Wembley Stadium tomorrow night.
Italy’s national football team has decided not to “take the knee” before kick-off against Austria in the Euro 2020 match in London’s Wembley Stadium on 26 June.
The unified approach is designed to avoid a repeat of the divisive scene before the Italy-Wales match in Rome on Sunday when five Italian players knelt – together with the entire Welsh team – and six remained standing.
The five players – Federico Bernardeschi, Andrea Belotti, Emerson Palmieri, Matteo Pessina and Rafael Toloi – chose to make the anti-racist gesture to express their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The spectacle descended into a political case – with politicians and the media weighing in with opposing views – a situation that Italy’s football chiefs are keen to avoid.
Until now Italian players were free to choose whether or not to make the gesture, however it has now been decided to stop players from taking the knee to avoid any further “confusion.”
After the players who did not kneel before the Wales match were criticised in the media, the Italian team issued a statement.
“On behalf of the entire squad, we reaffirm that we are against all forms of racism,” said communications chief Paolo Corbi, who added: “Adhering or not to a form of protest, a symbolic one at that, does not mean ignoring the fight against racism.”
The decision to steer clear of the gesture, which the Austrian team is also expected to avoid tomorrow night, has divided Italy’s fans on social media.
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