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1 Apr, 2021 12:50

‘The last topic to interest us’: Poland refuse to take knee vs England after comments by football boss

‘The last topic to interest us’: Poland refuse to take knee vs England after comments by football boss

Poland became the latest team to disregard the act of taking a knee prior to their World Cup qualifier against England on Wednesday, with the country's football chief saying continuing to do so was their 'last topic of interest'.

The action of players kneeling in the moments before kick-off has become widespread in global sport since the wave of social protests which began in the United States following the death of George Floyd last May and the ensuing 'Black Lives Matter' protests. 

The protests subsequently bled into football and have been commonplace in many major European leagues and international games, but a growing sense of malcontent has been noticeable in recent months as some figures within sport have begun to dismiss the gesture as mere tokenism and entirely ineffective at attacking the root of perceived racial and social inequality. 

Also on rt.com ‘Taking the knee can’t change systemic racism’: Ex-footballer John Barnes supports players deciding not to kneel (VIDEO)

Moments before kick-off in the qualifier at London's Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, the Polish players opted to remain standing and instead pointed to a badge on their sleeves displaying a UEFA 'respect' message - while the entire England starting XI took a knee inside their half of the pitch in a move similar to that of the Czech Republic before their game with Wales on Monday.

And perhaps influenced by the Czech team's decision, Polish football chief and former legendary midfield Zbigniew Boniek outlined before Wednesday's kick-off that it was unlikely that his team would join their English counterparts in kneeling.

"I do not know if we will kneel with the English," said Boniek this week. "So far, this topic has not appeared at the training camp.

"There were so many more important, more dangerous, that this is the last topic that interests us."

"The Poland team were never going to take the knee," wrote sports reporter Sam Street online. "The embodiment of everything their country struggled against for 45 years."

This sentiment was largely backed by respondees, with one person claiming: "Of course, they weren't. They are not brainwashed. Poland is one of the rare places in Europe where Western indoctrination and propaganda aren't powerful."

Boniek's statement was backed up by an official decree from the Polish FA, which said: "The Polish Football Association informs that the players of the Polish national team before the match with England at Wembley took a neutral and apolitical position towards the 'Black Lives Matter' initiative.

"At the same time, we emphasize that all Polish representatives are jointly and severally opposed to any manifestations of racism and intolerance.

"To express their objection, the Polish representatives, before the first whistle of the match with England, pointed to the "UEFA Respect" inscription on the left sleeve of the jersey, which refers to the campaign conducted by the European federation against racism, xenophobia and intolerance."

Also on rt.com ‘Why must I kneel down?’ Premier League star Zaha calls Black Lives Matter ‘degrading’ as he slams football’s ‘tick box’ tokenism

The position held by Polish and Czech football mirrors a growing rancor emerging in relation to the taking a knee gesture. In February, Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha referred to the act as "degrading".

"Why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter?" Zaha said to the On The Judy podcast.