The Latest on soccer’s European Championship:
Italy’s players will decide as a team whether to take a knee before their match against Austria on Saturday in the round of 16 at the European Championship.
Italian media reported that the team would not make the anti-racism gesture ahead of the match at Wembley Stadium. Half the players remained standing before the previous match against Wales.
Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci says “we will have a meeting tonight to decide all together as a team what to do tomorrow.”
Austria captain David Alaba has said his team will take a knee as “a clear signal” against racism.
Alaba adds” I think that this signal has got the attention of many people and also has drawn the attention to this topic.”
Spanish players have given the day off to the team’s equipment managers at the European Championship.
A table with food and beverages has been set up by the training field so the team’s three equipment managers could relax a bit.
The players were in charge of collecting the balls and training equipment after the session at the squad’s training center in Madrid.
Spain captain Sergio Busquets thanked the workers “for everything you do for us.”
Spain plays against Croatia in the round of 16 on Monday in Copenhagen.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku says he draws his motivation the same way basketball great Michael Jordan did.
Lukaku says he also uses criticism against him to become a better player and prove others wrong.
The 28-year-old striker says he watched the documentary “The Last Dance” about Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and thought “I’m not alone.”
Lukaku says “I’m not saying I’m Michael Jordan” but “people need something to push themselves. I need that.”
Belgium will play defending champion Portugal in the round of 16 of the European Championship on Sunday in Seville.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand says he hopes his country’s long-standing connection to Dutch club Ajax will give his team a boost against Wales in the round of 16 match at the European Championship.
Saturday’s match will be at Ajax’s home stadium in Amsterdam.
Ajax has a history of signing Danish players. They include Christian Eriksen, Jesper Olsen, Jan Molby and Michael and Brian Laudrup.
Hjulmand says Ajax is the one team outside Denmark that has meant something to Danish soccer and he hopes the Dutch fans will support his team.
He says “hopefully they’re going to come in in red and white and not orange.”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez says Kevin De Bruyne is in “perfect physical condition” ahead of the game against Portugal in the round of 16 of the European Championship.
Martinez says Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard also have fully recovered going into Sunday’s match in Seville.
He says the group phase was “really good” for Belgium because “we won the nine points and we got every player ready to play.”
De Bruyne gradually made his way into Belgium’s team at Euro 2020 after needing surgery for a facial injury sustained in a collision in the Champions League final.
UEFA has appointed an investigator to look at fresh claims of “potential discriminatory incidents” at a Hungary game at the European Championship.
Details of the incidents at the game between Germany and Hungary in Munich on Wednesday were not specified.
A separate investigation was already opened into incidents at Hungary’s two games in Budapest against Portugal and France.
Hungary fans have shown anti-gay banners and have been accused of chanting homophobic slogans in their stadium. Fans also marched to the Puskas Arena on Saturday protesting against players taking a knee to support equality.
Germany fans flew rainbow flags on Wednesday and one person ran onto the field waving a flag next to the Hungary players during their national anthem.
It is unclear if the latest UEFA investigation includes incidents involving Germany fans.
Hungary has been eliminated from Euro 2020 but Budapest will host the match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
UEFA has given its referees and match officials high marks for their overall performance at the European Championship.
Trends cited by UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti include nearly 2 1/2 minutes more active playing time per game, fewer fouls awarded and fewer yellow cards shown.
UEFA believes the first European Championship using video review means all tight offside decisions were correctly made and more penalties were correctly given.
Rosetti says offside “is not any more an issue for us.”
He praises the players’ good behavior and attitude for the average of only 22.4 fouls in the 36-game group stage.
That raised the average active playing time to 58 minutes, 51 seconds compared to 56:30 at Euro 2016.
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The Associated Press