Premier League players will no longer kneel before every game

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

For example, players will kneel at Premier League season opener games this weekend and again on Boxing Day (December 26); during two weeks dedicated to racism awareness 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 eradicating racial prejudice and building an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunity for all.” captains said in a statement issued by the Premier League. Players have said that they think this gesture will have more impact if performed less frequently.

Premier League players started kneeling for a few seconds after the starting whistle when matches resumed after the pandemic break in June 2020. The protest coincided with Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in 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 become widespread in leagues and sports in Europe and elsewhere. Players of dozens of teams knelt down before international matchesand women’s squads – although not all – did the same during the recently concluded Euro 2022 Women’s Championship, which concluded on Sunday.

Premier League players continued to kneel before every game, and players in many lower league games in England did the same.

The gesture drew praise in some circles. “I feel the strength every time the players fall and show solidarity.” Troy Townsend said, Head of Development at Kick It Out, a non-profit organization that promotes equality and inclusion in football. But several black players dismissed it as a largely empty gesture that did little to make a real difference. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who grew up in England but plays for the Ivory Coast national team, stopped kneeling in early 2021. He said the protest “just became part of the pre-match routine”.

Kneeling was sometimes applauded both in England and more often when English teams traveled abroad. Some fans in England made fun of them before the games leading up to the European Championship last summer.

And in June, when the players from England are jamming before the game in Hungarythey were taunted by the crowd, mostly children under 14; most adults were banned due to racist chants by Hungarian fans at previous games.

The kneeling position was also not universal. Many teams from other countries did not kneel before games, which sometimes created an absurd spectacle in the Champions League and international matches: the players of English teams and clubs were on one knee before the start of the match, while their opponents stood just a few meters away, waiting, when they get up. so that the game can start.