The captains of all twenty teams of the highest competition there informed about it in a joint official statement.
“We have decided to choose significant moments throughout the season to kneel to emphasize our unity against all forms of racism. We remain committed to eradicating racial prejudice and working towards an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”
The leaders of their units understandably debated the decision with their teammates and coaches. They agreed with the management of the Premier League that they will make the gesture only before selected duels – before the first and last rounds, before the final races, before the festive December matches…
And also in October and March, when the competition will dedicate certain rounds to support the “No Room for Racism” campaign.
The gesture is inspired by quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s act of kneeling during the US national anthem before NFL games to draw attention to racial oppression in the country.
Athletes around the world began to imitate him after the death of George Floyd the year before last, when American police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes.
A wave of protests, riots, violent demonstrations followed, especially in the United States; associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The footballers in Germany were initially threatened with punishment for the gesture, as the rule forbade political speeches on the field. Gradually, however, the approach changed in this particular case.
In England, in one round of the Premier League, the players even had the Black Lives Matter slogan on their jerseys instead of their own name tags, an initiative known worldwide today. They kept kneeling in the most watched competition in the world for two whole years.
More and more recently, however, they have encountered resistance from fans and some individuals from their own ranks, the most frequent criticism being that the gesture has become empty, that it has become a mandatory routine losing its original meaning.
“It doesn’t matter if we kneel or stand normally, some of us continue to offend,” said the dark-skinned footballer Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace, who stopped kneeling before matches last February.