Celtic and Rangers players chose to stand instead of taking a knee prior to the 1-1 draw in the Old Firm clash at Parkhead.
The decision was made after Gers midfielder Glen Kamara claimed he was racially abused by Slavia Prague’s Czech international centre-back Ondrej Kudela towards the end of the two sides’ Europa League game on Thursday, which led to angry scenes on the pitch and in the tunnel after the game. UEFA’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.
In a statement released on Slavia’s English language website on Friday, Kudela admitted he had used offensive language but denied using racist language.
Rangers striker Kemar Roofe suffered racist abuse on social media after he was sent off during the game at Ibrox.
Kamara was named in Steven Gerrard’s starting XI ahead of the game at Celtic Park, with Roofe among the substitutes. During both sides’ pre-match warm-ups, Celtic skipper Scott Brown came over to embrace Kamara and shook his hand before kick-off in a show of solidarity.
Mohamed Elyounoussi opened the scoring with a header in the 23rd minute before Alfredo Morelos equalised later in the first half with his first Old Firm goal as the champions earned an away point.
Prior to the match, Gerrard explained Kamara’s state of mind following events in midweek and the decision-making process behind choosing not to take a knee.
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He told Sky Sports: “I didn’t have to speak to him [Kamara] because I know the boy very well and I know the character and he will be desperate to play today.
“I didn’t have to chat but obviously to check on his welfare and how he was feeling of course I did that as well. He is totally fine, he is looking forward to the game.
“We won’t take the knee. I spoke to both of my captains yesterday and they made a collective decision that they are going to stand, and they are going to stand side-by-side together and we will support that and follow suit as staff as well.
“I wasn’t aware of the chat that the players had had amongst themselves but James [Tavernier] and Connor [Goldson] came to see me yesterday and I totally understand the decision that they’ve made and I totally back them 100 per cent and we will do the same as staff to show them the support.”
After the final whistle, Brown spoke of his support for Kamara and said he wanted to show respect to the midfielder as a “fellow professional”, with the two Glasgow clubs united in their rejection of racist abuse.
He said: “I think it’s disgusting what’s happened to him to be perfectly honest.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Rangers player or a Celtic player it should never be a part of the game.
“It just shows that we are with them we will stand with them on racism, and respect for a fellow professional.”
Dundee United and Motherwell‘s players also opted not to take a knee prior to their games on Saturday to protest against racial discrimination and in solidarity with Kamara.
Playing and non-playing staff and match officials have knelt before kick-off in Scottish Premiership matches since the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
It follows a number of English sides in recent weeks who have chosen not to continue with the pre-game gesture.
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to choose to stand instead of kneeling – prior to his side’s win over West Brom.
Tavernier: All of Rangers’ black players have been racially abused this season
Prior to kick-off at Celtic Park on Sunday, Rangers captain James Tavernier revealed he thinks all of the club’s black players have been targeted with racial abuse this season and said Kamara has the full support of the squad in the wake of events on Thursday night.
The defender also said the meaning behind taking a knee is not strong enough and has called on social media companies to take robust action to combat increasing levels of abuse on their platforms.
“Obviously we have taken the knee all season to send out a message but we believe that message is not strong enough,” Tavernier told Sky Sports.
“We believe today that standing up to send out a bigger message that we need action to be made on all these things that are occurring regularly now.
“It’s an easy decision, with the situation of what happened on Thursday that is obviously going to get taken care of.
“But it is what has happened over the course of the year, I am confident that all our black players have received racial abuse this season and that’s from the social media platforms and this is a key message to them to say that action needs to be made and enough is enough.
“It’s happening all around in the game that you get people hiding behind keyboards and behind computers and phones willingly sending messages out to racially abuse players and we’ve just had enough of it.
“Something has to be done, we have spoken about it whereby if it means people have to have an ID to sign into a social media account so that that profile is linked to a certain person so they can trace it back, but something has to be done now, we are getting to that point that we are not happy enough with the action that has been made from these big companies.”
On how the players have been supporting Kamara, Tavernier said: “Just by being around him. The gaffer expressed it on Thursday about the togetherness that has been shown, including from the coaches, the chairman, the supporters and all the messages and support which has been flying in.
“He is a quiet guy Glen and I could see on Thursday that something was said because he has never reacted in that kind of way [before].
“Hopefully that issue will be resolved but he is in a good frame of mind for the game today.”
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