English football clubs were split on whether or not to take a knee with some fearing that the gesture could lose its impact if continued indefinitely
- Players have been kneeling in support of the anti-racism movement since the restart
- Several clubs think it will lose significance if the ‘kneeling’ continues indefinitely
- On Saturday, in 16 of the 37 games, the players did not kneel before kick-off
English football is divided as to whether it is still relevant to ‘get down on your knees’ before matches.
What began during Project Restart as a unanimous gesture of support for the anti-racism movement after George Floyd’s shocking death in America in May, is now causing confusion among many players.
Several clubs have decided it will lose significance if continued indefinitely, and on Saturday in 16 of the 37 games in the top four divisions, players did not kneel before kickoff.
There is disagreement as to whether clubs should continue to kneel before matches begin
In 6 of the 37 games in the top four divisions on Saturday, the players did not kneel beforehand
It went on in all four Premier League games and every game in the Championship except Norwich v Preston. But the picture was less clear in League One and League Two where the majority didn’t get a hang of it. Of the 23 games in the bottom two leagues, players did not take the knee in 15 of them.
QPR has reiterated their commitment to fighting racism and social injustice after their players and Coventry’s refused to master, as was common practice in televised games, ahead of Friday night’s championship fight on Sky TV.
Manager Mark Warburton and CEO Lee Hoos have both spoken in support of player protests to highlight racial inequality.
But they insist that taking the knee is a problem for players and that the club should be judged by their track record rather than the gesture itself. Both teams agreed with the referee that they would not get down on the knee before the match and Warburton said: ‘We have absolute respect for such an important goal and all our players, a man and a staff, followed the lead. [last season] and took the knee.
‘Some teams said at the end of the lockdown that we have now. So we say there must be guidance from the EFL.
Mark Warburton defended his QPR team, which was one of the teams that didn’t kneel
When I came off the field last night and became aware that some were saying QPR’s behavior was inappropriate, I was shocked.
‘We had the first game against Nottingham Forest last week and both clubs said,’ We did it. We have a lot of respect for the cause, but we don’t want it to be a symbolic gesture. ‘Our players say,’ Do we do it every game? ‘
As with the blow to caregivers, it tends to lose its strength over time. But when clapping for caregivers stopped, there is no less respect for caregivers.
‘We abhor all forms of discrimination and I don’t think there is a more diverse club in football. It is important that we see that we have BAME [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] representation, given the work we do in our community, which is very diverse. Any suggestion that the club has acted inappropriately must be vigorously answered by us. ‘
Hoos was adamant that the players’ attitude was not endorsement of those seeking to belittle the knee or the message behind Black Lives Matter. He said, “People who say ‘All Lives Matter’ just don’t get it and suggest that QPR supports that kind of thinking that would be perverse.”
After their match with Bournemouth on Saturday, Kevin Blackwell, Middlesbrough’s assistant said: ‘Myself and the people from Bournemouth talked about it and we decided we would both take a knee.
‘For this we need guidance from the Football League. There is now a point where we have to decide ‘is this relevant? Do people understand its meaning? ‘I would like to see people do things about it now instead of sitting down and talking about it. We need action for the right reasons. ‘
Sheffield Wednesday and Watford took the knee at Hillsborough and Owls boss Garry Monk said, ‘We want to keep the awareness of it in the spotlight and not let it fade.’ Thomas Frank from Brentford added: “I didn’t know some teams weren’t doing it, I think it’s a good cause and we should all support it.”
Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of Kick It Out, insisted they wanted action rather than a debate about gestures.
“We encourage the players to continue to protest in whatever form they feel comfortable doing and to do so without the risk of sanctions, whether that protest takes a knee, wears a badge or any other form,” he said.
‘The form of protest and who protests is not the issue and must not detract from the real issue. The real problem is meaningful action to create lasting change. We must focus on the goals for greater representation in leadership and coaching in football; and to mobilize everyone to resist growing hatred, especially online. ‘