OVER the years, the Scottish Football Association have ironically seemed adept at scoring own goals, and they again faced accusations of blundering incompetence this week as they announced that Scotland’s players wouldn’t be taking the knee at the European Championships.

Given the courageous persistence of the English national squad in continuing to perform the gesture prior to their games in the face of booing from a section of their own supporters, there was an understandable anger from Scotland fans about how it might look if our own players stood not in solidarity with their opponents at Wembley next week, but in seemingly cowardly contrast.

The failure here though is not one of cravenness, but of communication. A brief statement containing a short summary of the Scotland squad’s stance from captain Andy Robertson left their decision open to misinterpretation, and subsequently, massive criticism.

If the SFA can be accused of failing to articulate the point though, they cannot be accused of dictating this instruction to an unwilling group of players. The decision in fact was left to the players themselves, and is consistent with their approach to the issue since March.

Back then, for the World Cup qualifiers, Scotland manager Steve Clarke made it clear that it would be left to the squad to discuss and decide what they wanted to do to show their solidarity with the anti-racism message.

At that time, the Scottish players were hugely frustrated with the seeming inefficacy of the gesture of taking the knee, after Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was subjected to racist abuse from Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela.

"Recent events and past events show that you have to keep changing people's mindsets about racism,” Clarke said in March.

"I think the knee when it was first proposed and first taken was a really powerful symbol. It's maybe now become a little diluted, there's been some high profile cases recently, which shows the racism and the abuse is still there. It's not acceptable to anybody.

"And maybe just taking a stand as opposed to the knee will just waken everybody up to the fact that if we go to sleep it will never go away.

"We have to keep confronting it, pushing forward and making sure that in years to come racism of any form is not acceptable."

This move was widely applauded at the time. Black players at Motherwell had already explained their own frustrations that taking a knee had become a token gesture, and their club decided they would no longer do it.

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha expressed a similar sentiment. “I feel like taking a knee is degrading,” Zaha said.

“Growing up, my parents just let me know that I should just be proud to be black, no matter what, and I just think we should stand tall.

“I think the meaning behind the whole thing is becoming something that we just do now. That’s not enough. I’m not going to take the knee.”

So, there is nuance to the debate. And it could be argued we should be listening to those most affected by racism rather than worrying about ‘optics’.

That being said, given the shifting context around the debate south of the border in particular, perhaps consultation between the Scottish players and their English counterparts could be helpful ahead of the match at Wembley. Perhaps it has already taken place, given captain Robertson is a club teammate of the influential Jordan Henderson.

The FA certainly cannot be accused of poor communication. The English game’s governing body and the England players have made it crystal clear what they are kneeling for and what it represents. They have been booed regardless by those who would attribute their own twisted meaning to their actions.

So, it is understandable why a lot of people would like the Scotland players to also kneel at Wembley to show their unity with their English counterparts. But if they do choose to stand, let’s not also be guilty of assigning our own meaning to their actions.

These Scotland players aren’t trying to appease angry racists. They certainly aren’t cowards. They should be given the opportunity to explain their stance before they are condemned as such.