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3 Aug, 2022 12:33

Premier League to limit BLM gesture

'Taking a knee' will only be used on rare occasions in English football
Premier League to limit BLM gesture

The pre-match practice of taking a knee in advance of the kick-off of English Premier League games will be restricted to just rare occasions, it has collectively been decided by team captains across England's top flight. 

English football clubs had adopted the anti-racism gesture in support of the Black Lives Matter movement which gained momentum in the United States following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and has become a common sight at Premier League stadiums ever since. 

But after a consultation between captains of all 20 Premier League teams, it has been decided that the pre-match ritual will be largely absent in the upcoming season.

There will, however, be exceptions for certain games - including cup finals - and the gesture will be performed by teams on the first and last matchdays of the 2022-23 season. 

It will also be seen in game-weeks designated to support the 'No Room for Racism' campaign in October and March. It was also seen at last weekend's Community Shield fixture between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Per reports, captains of various Premier League clubs were of the opinion that taking a knee would be a more impactful anti-racism message if used sparingly, rather than at each fixture.

“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,” read a joint statement issued by Premier League captains. 

“We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”

The gesture has generally been seen with raising awareness for issues of racism in English football - but it has not been without its critics.

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha - who is black - stopped taking a knee last February, and said that his decision was due to him still receiving racist abuse from football fans regardless of it.

“For two years now taking the knee has become part of the pre-match ritual. The players fear it's losing power and momentum and we will see it take place in a different format,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said to the BBC

“It's up to the players to decide themselves and we support them in whatever decision they make, as do the clubs.”

Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of the anti-racism watchdog Kick It Out, said prior to the announcement made by Premier League captains that he would support whatever decision the footballers made.

“We should be spending more time on why players take a knee rather than whether they take a knee or not,” he said this week.

“We are talking about how we tackle discrimination and how we create greater inclusion in football and around football with governing bodies and clubs.

“There seems to be this great intent in wanting to do more. We have to tap into that.”

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