Premier League Players Will Not Have to Kneel for BLM Before Games This Season
16:17 GMT 03.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein / Liverpool's Thiago, centre, and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne take a knee before the FA Community Shield soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester CityLiverpool's Thiago, centre, and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne take a knee before the FA Community Shield soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City
© AP Photo / Frank Augstein / Liverpool's Thiago, centre, and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne take a knee before the FA Community Shield soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City
American Football quarterback Colin Kaepernick originated 'taking the knee' in protest when the US national anthem was played. The English national football team adopted the gesture before the start of games during the 2021 European Championship — after standing to sing 'God Save the Queen'.
English Premier League players will only be expected to kneel in support of the US Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement at the start of certain matches this season.
The captains of the 20 top-flight clubs have agreed to only make the protest act co-opted as a gesture towards racial harmony during certain matches in order to "to amplify the message that racism has no place in football or society".
Those will include special No Room for Racism matches in October and March, Boxing Day fixtures after the World Cup has finished, the last day of the season and the FA and EFL cup finals.
"We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism and in so doing we continue to show solidarity for a common cause," the captains said in a statement. "We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all."
The Premiership, a corporation made up of the 20 clubs and the Football Association (FA), supported the decision.
"The Premier League supports the players' decision and, alongside the clubs, will use these opportunities to elevate anti-racism messaging as part of the League's No Room for Racism Action Plan," the league said in a statement.
Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Maheta Molango explained that players feared the act of kneeling was in danger of becoming a meaningless gesture.
"We've always been clear that choosing whether to take the knee should be a personal decision for each individual," Molango said. "We've spoken to players about this and what we've heard is that they want to find a balance. They don't want the gesture of taking the knee to become routine, so that it potentially loses its impact."
From Personal Protest to Official Posture
The gesture of "taking the knee" originated in 2016 with American Football quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to rise from the team bench and stand for the national anthem at a pre-season game.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour," He said later. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder".
At subsequent games Kaepernick got off the bench only to kneel down for the anthem, saying his intention was to show more respect for war veterans while maintaining his protest. Others soon imitated the player's gesture, including elected US federal politicians and then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
31 October 2021, 15:40 GMT
The English national football team knelt before the start of games during the delayed European Championship 2020 tournament in 2021 — after standing and singing the national anthem 'God Save the Queen'. The move drew criticism from some quarters but was supported by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.