On Wednesday, 20 premier league captains confirmed that they intend to stop taking the knee before every match, instead, they will perform the ‘anti‑racism’ gesture at specific high‑profile moments during the season in the belief that less is more.
The club captains met last week to discuss whether to continue with the gesture that was introduced in 2020 during Project Restart to support the Black Lives Matter movement, which came to prominence after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
This announcement has caused widespread debates on social media, with many calling the gesture “virtue signalling.”
Taking the knee began as a protest against the unfair treatment of African Americans and became more widespread after the death of George Floyd; it has since grown to become a globalized symbol for fighting racism.
The anti-racism protest first began when NFL play Colin Kaepernick took the knee during the national anthem before a match in 2016. Since then, premier league players started taking the knee to highlight the racism and inequality that has been in the English game for decades.
However, Premier League Captains announced yesterday that they have decided to stop taking the knee as some players believe it had lost its “gravitas.”
A statement released on behalf of the captains said: “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 eradicating racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”
These significant moments will be the first and last matched of the 2022-23 campaigns, before Boxing Day fixtures, Cup finals and dedicated ‘No Room For Racism’ match-days.
The belief is that the anti-racism message will be amplified if it is used more sparingly.
The reaction to the announcement has been mixed on the social media platform Twitter. Some called out the gesture as “performative”, “divisive”, and “virtue signalling” – stating that the reason behind the decision has to do with England’s World Cup match against Qatar.
Racism hurts, in a real and fundamental way and that is something that we can not deny. Irrespective of what side of the debate you are on, everyone can agree that more needs to be done to address this issue nationally.