If one of the opponents of the Czech national football team at the UEFA European Championship chooses to support the fight against racism before the kick-off, the Czechs will only point to the left sleeve of their jerseys with the UEFA Respect campaign inscription, however, they will not kneel.
The Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) announced the decision in a press release. The Czech players will stick to the gestures they made in March before the World Cup qualification match in Cardiff, Wales.
The home team then knelt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but the Czech players refused to back the controversial Black LIves Matter movement, which has been seen as responsible for dozens of deaths, mass rioting, and billions in property damage in the US.
During the UEFA European Championship, footballers will once again point to the left sleeve, and the “Respect” inscription, which is the logo of the UEFA campaign focused on fighting racism, xenophobia, and other discriminatory behavior since 2008. However, they will only do so if their opponent in some way makes a move to point out this issue.
“We want to focus solely on football and the sports side of our participation in the championship. I understand that society perceives similar topics as important, and the national team condemns any forms of racism, but we discussed the whole thing with the team during a March meeting, chose our own solution, and we will not change anything in this attitude,” said coach Jaroslav Šilhavý.
The topic of kneeling, which is not only a topic in Britain, became very prominent with the beginning of the European Championship. For example, the English national team is still practicing the gesture even though it received booing and whistles from the stands during the preparatory matches.
“In our opinion, this is not a political gesture,” reads the English footballers’ camp.
In an open letter to fans published by The Players Tribune, coach Gareth Southgate said that it is the responsibility of the national team to communicate with the public on issues such as equality or racial intolerance.
“I will speak about it until the day that I pass away. I am a strong advocate for trying to educate people who might not understand issues they have been subjected to,” said English defender Tyrone Mings and one of the louder voices against racism in the football world.
UEFA leaves the decision of how individual teams and players behave before matches and whether they kneel to the national associations.
Last October, the Czechs in Scotland complied with the wishes of the locals and knelt together with them, which aroused a strong wave of criticism among fans and some politicians.
Tomio Okamura, a vice-chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and head of the SPD movement, and Václav Klaus Jr., the then chairman of the Tricolor movement, were especially critical.
On Monday afternoon, when the match between Scotland and Czechia starts, both teams will keep standing. The Scots decided on a bizarre compromise: they would stand at home in Hampden Park but kneel before the match against England at Wembley in London.
The FAČR and the national team reiterated that, according to them, politics does not belong in sports. However, as the topic resonates, they both wanted to make it clear in advance how they would behave.
“I consider freedom of expression of each individual representation to be an absolute must, and the UEFA Respect program sufficiently includes all topics related to the fight against any form of intolerance,” said the new chairman of FAČR Petr Fousek.
Title image: Czech football team before the match against Wales in March (Czech Republic national football team/Twitter)