Premier League players agree to stop taking the knee before every match

August 3 – In a move that seems likely to split public opinion, Premier League players have agreed to stop taking the knee routinely before every kick off during the new season that gets under way later this week, instead performing it ahead of specific games.

Top-flight English clubs, as well as those across Europe, began the anti-racism gesture in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement, which rose to prominence following the death of George Floyd in the United States in May 2020.

But Premier League captains took the latest decision to reduce taking the knee after consulting with their first-team colleagues. The gesture will instead be seen before certain rounds of games, including the Boxing Day fixtures and Cup finals.

Players and staff will also take the knee, symbolically, before the first and last matches of the 2022-23 campaign.

The gesture was originally inspired by NFL player Colin Kapernick, who protested against racial oppression by kneeling during the US national anthem.

Some Premier League captains felt that the gesture had run its course and it will therefore be used sparingly this year, a compromise having been found ensures taking the knee remains part of the season but only ahead of certain matches. Promoted Bournemouth, however, will not take the knee at all.

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

“For two years now the taking the knee has become part of the pre match ritual. The players fear it is 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.”

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