Premier League players will no longer kneel before games

While Premier League players will continue to kneel in protest against racism this season, they announced on Wednesday that the gesture will no longer be at every game.

Players will kneel, for example, at the opening games of the Premier League season this weekend and again on Boxing Day (December 26); Racism awareness fortnight in October and March, on the last day of the season and before the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

“We remain strongly committed to eliminating racial prejudice and creating an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.” – said in the statement released by the Premier League. Players said they believed the gesture would have more impact if it was performed less often.

Premier League players began kneeling moments after the opening whistle when matches resumed after the pandemic break in June 2020. The protest coincided with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and following the police shooting of George Floyd. Minneapolis.

The gesture was inspired by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other American athletes who knelt before games or during the national anthem, and has been widely adopted by leagues and sports in Europe and elsewhere. Players from dozens of teams knelt before international matches and women’s teams – though not all – did the same during the recently concluded Euro 2022 Women’s Championship, which ended on Sunday.

Premier League players continued to kneel before every game, and many of England’s lower leagues did the same.

The gesture drew praise in some quarters. “I feel empowered every time players walk out and show solidarity,” said Troy Townsend, head of development for Kick It Out, a nonprofit that promotes equality and inclusion in soccer. But several black players dismissed it as a largely empty gesture that did little to bring about real change. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who grew up in England but plays for Ivory Coast, has stopped kneeling in early 2021. He said the protest had “recently become part of the match claim”.

Kneeling was sometimes booed, both in England and more often when English teams traveled abroad. England fans were taunted by their supporters ahead of last summer’s European Championship matches.

And in June, when England’s players knelt before a game in Hungary, they were jeered by a crowd of under-14s; Most adults were banned due to racist chants from Hungarian fans at previous games.

Kneeling was also not universal. Many teams from other nations did not kneel before the match, creating a sometimes incongruous sight for Champions League and international matches: players from English teams and clubs took one knee before kick-off, while their opponents stood just yards away waiting to get up. So the game can begin.

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