Premier League players have decided to stop taking a knee as an anti-racism gesture before every match.
The initiative was adopted as a way of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, which became prominent following George Floyd’s death in police custody in May 2020 in the United States.
Certain pockets of society were critical of the gesture, suggesting it was politically motivated – England players were even jeered for kneeling ahead of Euro 2020 last year.
The Premier League and club captains consistently refuted such criticism, adamant it was simply an anti-racism message.
But some players and Championship clubs did begin to stop participating last year, with Wilfried Zaha suggesting it “doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand” as abuse continued to be aimed at certain players.
Now, the Premier League as a collective will look to move away from weekly displays of kneeling, though players will take a knee at the start of certain matches.
Ahead of the new season, #PL club captains have reaffirmed their commitment to fighting racism and all forms of discrimination.
The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to take the knee. #NoRoomForRacism
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 3, 2022
The Premier League’s statement read: “Ahead of the new season, Premier League club captains have reaffirmed their commitment to fighting racism and all forms of discrimination.
“The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to take the knee, to amplify the message that racism has no place in football or society.
“The Premier League supports the players’ decision and, alongside the clubs, will use these opportunities to elevate anti-racism messaging as part of the League’s No Room for Racism Action Plan.
“Players will take the knee during the opening match round of the season, dedicated No Room for Racism match rounds in October and March, Boxing Day fixtures following the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Premier League matches on the final day of the season and The FA Cup and EFL Cup Finals.”
In a joint message, the Premier League captains added: “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.
“We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”