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Premier League football stars claim taking knee ‘more important than ever’ as clubs commit to continuing gesture into new season

Premier League football stars claim taking knee ‘more important than ever’ as clubs commit to continuing gesture into new season
Premier League footballers have decided that they will continue to take the knee during the upcoming 2021/2022 football season, announcing a move that has again split fans online but is supported "wholeheartedly" by league bosses.

Despite boos being heard at some matches in England during the gesture, top-flight clubs have confirmed and endorsed the apparently collective decision in a statement less than two weeks before the start of the campaign.

A constant feature of elite games last season, the move, which is seen as divisive rather than effective by its critics, saw the England national team booed at a friendly before Euro 2020, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel refusing to condemn hecklers.

"We feel now, more than ever, it is important for us to continue to take the knee as a symbol of our unity against all forms of racism," the players announced in the release.

"We remain resolutely committed to our singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect and equal opportunities for all.

The Premier League also confirmed that players and match officials will continue to wear a 'No Room For Racism' sleeve badge on their shirts, which they said acts as a "constant reminder" of their determination to "eradicate racism."

"The Premier League, our clubs, players and match officials have a long-standing commitment to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination," offered chief executive Richard Masters.

"Following our club captains’ meeting, that collective commitment was reaffirmed and the Premier League will continue to support the players’ strong voice on this important issue.

"Racism in any form is unacceptable and 'No Room For Racism' makes our zero-tolerance stance clear. The Premier League will continue to work with our clubs, players and football partners to bring about tangible change to remove inequality from our game."

Sparked by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the symbolism of kneeling entered English football when the season resumed after being halted by the pandemic, with the Black Lives Matter gesture becoming more widespread following the killing of George Floyd in the US in May 2020.

Following England's penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 and the racial abuse suffered by a trio of Three Lions stars who missed decisive spot kicks, defender Tyrone Mings became embroiled in a Twitter spat with Patel and called her out for hypocrisy when she attempted to offer support to the victims.

With crowds set to be allowed back into grounds when the campaign kicks off the weekend after next, there could be more mixed reactions to come if the response on social media is any indicator.

"It’s their choice but I think the meaningless gesture has run its course and only continued to spite those not fond of it," said one critic.

"Stamping out racism from football is achievable without taking a knee."

"Taking the knee is divisive and has caused more division in this country," added a political commentator.

"It would be far better to stand against racism and bring the country together. I don’t support it."

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