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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

EPL 2022/2023: Premier League players agree to stop taking the knee before every match

All Premier League players will stop the pre-match anti-racism gesture of taking the knee before every match.

Leading clubs began kneeling as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which gained traction after the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Premier League captains took the decision after consulting with players.

Instead, the gesture will be witnessed before certain matches, including Boxing Day games and cup finals.

There will also be dedicated No Room for Racism match rounds in October and March in which players and staff will take a knee before the first and last games of the 2022-23 season.

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The gesture took place before the Community Shield between Liverpool and Manchester City last Saturday.

Captains and players are said to believe that ‘less is more’ – hoping when the knee is taken it will have greater impact.

“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,” said a joint statement from the 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.”

What’s taking the knee and why is it important?

Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest racist oppression, inspired the gesture.

However, Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stopped in February 2021, saying at the time that “at the moment it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse”.

Several Championship clubs, including Derby, Brentford, Bournemouth and Queens Park Rangers, also stopped taking a knee around that time.

Swansea City and Bristol City recently announced they would be stopping the action as well.

“We met with the captains last week, they’re still totally committed to the issue,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told BBC Sport on Tuesday.

“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.

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

Prior to the decision to scale back the taking of the knee, anti-racism charity Kick It Out’s chairman Sanjay Bhandari said he would support the players in whatever decision they made.

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

“The reason they take a knee is because we are not living in an equal society. There is discrimination. There is a huge amount of online abuse.

“It is using their platform to raise awareness and says to the people in power you need to act. Whatever they do, I will support any kind of peaceful gesture.

“The point is we still need to be doing something to raise awareness and to keep things like the online safety bill on the agenda.”

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