Premier League captains announce they will no longer routinely take the knee ahead of games; campaign started in wake of George Floyd's killing in 2020, and has lasted more than two years; clubs will still take knee ahead of "significant" moments during season
Wednesday 3 August 2022 18:40, UK
Premier League players will no longer routinely take a knee before matches, the league has announced ahead of the new season.
Players began taking a knee during Project Restart, in the wake of George Floyd's unlawful killing in the USA and the Black Lives Matter movement which followed.
Aston Villa's televised game with Sheffield United started off the top flight's stance, which has since been replicated across the domestic leagues and beyond - and caused friction with the UK Government when England players were booed while making the stance ahead of Euro 2020 last summer.
More recently, a number of individual clubs and players have announced they will stop taking a knee and now, the Premier League have followed suit more than two years since the initiative was first introduced.
Players will still take a knee before certain rounds of matches, including the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals, as well as Boxing Day matches and the Premier League's No Room For Racism rounds.
In a statement, the Premier League said: "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."
Speaking as a collective, the 20 Premier League captains added that they would use "significant moments" of the forthcoming season to take the knee.
"We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all," they added.
The Premier League has also announced that £238,000 will be donated to a number of youth clubs on behalf of the club captains, with £119,000 coming from the royalties of the 'No Room for Racism' sleeve badges sold on club shirts in 2021/22, and the figure matched by the Premier League.
Maheta Molango, the first BAME chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said Premier League captains had reached their decision with the aim of finding a "balance" about how to show their support.
He said: "We've always been clear that choosing whether to take the knee should be a personal decision for each individual.
"We've spoken to players about this and what we've heard is that they want to find a balance. They don't want the gesture of taking the knee to become routine, so that it potentially loses its impact.
"However, they are also committed to using their platform and their voice to continue to bring attention to what remains an extremely important issue, not just in England but around the world."
Asked what he hopes to come from the new anti-racism plans in the Premier League, Kick It Out's CEO Tony Burnett told Sky Sports News: "We want to see change.
"There are over 40 per cent black players in the Premier League, we are still not seeing that translate into coaching and management. That's not because black players don't want jobs in coaching and management.
"South Asian representation, we've got great representation from South Asians in grassroots football, but that's not projecting itself into the professional game. That's not because the talent isn't there, it's really clear, actually. It's because the development pathway that allows South Asian players to progress and become professionals is not fair.
"The boardroom and the senior executive representation across football does not reflect the playing side of the game or our broader society. I'd include within that women, we need more women at the top of our game, in all forms of the game, to help inform decisions.
"We certainly need more representation when it comes to black and Asian representation in boardroom and decision-making corridors throughout our game because that's the only way things will change. In football management and senior leadership, we've got a system that self-replicates, where people appoint people who look like themselves."
Kick It Out is football's equality and inclusion organisation - working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.
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