England vs Scotland: First Minister says teams taking the knee before kick-off will be an important moment as teams 'unite in solidarity against racism'

Nicola Sturgeon said today that players taking the knee at the England v Scotland match tonight would be a “special moment” and “send out a really, really positive message around the world.”

Ms Sturgeon said the match would herald an important moment for the England and Scotland national football teams expected to “unite in solidarity against racism” by taking the knee before kick-off.

Her comments follow a recent U-turn by the Scottish Football Association to allow Scotland players to take the knee at tonight’s match against England in a one-off departure from Steve Clarke’s decision that the team would instead be “standing up to racism”.

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This came after Clarke’s approach came under fierce criticism, with the First Minister later praising the reversal as a “good decision” for the Scottish team set to face off against Gareth Southgate’s England squad tonight.

Scotland will take the knee alongside England at tonight's kick-off. (Image: Ross Parker/SNS Group)

"I think that it will be a special moment and will send out a really, really positive message around the world,” the First Minister said in today’s covid briefing.

"As soon as the kick-off goes, those two teams will be the fiercest of opponents and that’s fine – that football rivalry is something many people enjoy – but it should never ever ever transfer into racism or anti-English sentiment in any way, shape or form.”

When asked about alleged footage of Tartan Army fans singing anti-English chants and songs in London ahead of the match, Ms Sturgeon said she “would abhor and condemn unreservedly any anti-English chants, just as we would as Scots not want to hear that coming from fans of any other country about us.”

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Ms Sturgeon went onto describe the sports rivalry between England and Scotland as one of the oldest in the world, but noted that tonight’s match would provide an opportunity for players to show solidarity against racism and xenophobia worldwide.

With Scotland’s Tartan Army descending on London for tonight’s match ahead kicking off at 8pm, the First Minister has called on fans to show respect and practice covid-safety precautions while in the capital and gathering in homes back in Scotland.

“The virus doesn’t care about football,” she told viewers today. “Please remember if you're watching the match today to continue to take care.”

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