The Latest: Netherlands team won’t take knee at Euro 2020
Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum says Dutch players will not take a knee in an anti-racism gesture before their opening European Championship match against Ukraine on Sunday. Wijnaldum says the team already is involved in anti-racism initiatives with the Dutch soccer federation and has decided not to take a knee at the Johan Cruyff Arena because they have not done it in other recent games. Wijnaldum says the team already does a lot to promote an anti-racism message but adds “it is never enough until it (racism) has stopped.”
Sections of fans have booed England players when they took a knee before two Euro 2020 warm-up matches. ___ Netherlands coach Frank de Boer says defender Matthijs de Ligt is not ready to play in the team’s opening European Championship match against Ukraine on Sunday.
De Ligt is recovering from a groin injury but has been training with the team in recent days. He said earlier this week he hoped to be able to play Sunday in the Netherlands’ first major tournament match since the 2014 World Cup. But De Boer says “it is a bit too early.
We don’t want to take any risks. We have two more group matches.”
He did not say who would replace the Juventus defender in the starting lineup for the team’s Euro 2020 opener. The Netherlands already is missing center back and captain Virgil van Dijk with a long-term knee injury.
De Boer says he expects De Ligt to be available for the next match against Austria on Thursday. The Netherlands will play all three of its Group C matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. ___
Spain has sent home the 17 extra players it called up this week to form an alternative squad after a coronavirus outbreak had threatened to infect the team at the European Championship. Six players with previous experience with the national team and 11 players from Spain’s under-21 team were called up by coach Luis Enrique after captain Sergio Busquets tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. Diego Llorente also tested positive on Tuesday but he has returned to the squad after four consecutive negative results.
The extra players left a day after the squad was vaccinated and following three consecutive days of negative tests for the entire group.
The 23-man squad for Euro 2020 practiced together for the first time this week. Spain plays its opening match against Sweden in Seville on Monday. ___
The European Championship moves to Baku on Day 2 of the tournament before heading to Copenhagen and then St. Petersburg. The first match on the day’s Euro 2020 schedule will be between Wales and Switzerland in Baku.
Italy beat Turkey 3-0 in the other Group A match on Friday in Rome. The middle match pits Denmark against Finland in Copenhagen in Group B. And the final game of the day in that same group will be between Belgium and Russia in St.
Petersburg. The European Championship began a year late because of the coronavirus pandemic but is still being called Euro 2020. ___
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