It may be too much too hope, but it looks as though when Premier League football starts again on Friday the players may finally abandon the knee-taking that, until now, has been a mandatory ritual before every game. According to MailOnline, the issue was discussed at a meeting of the 20 club captains last Thursday, with some expressing concern that the gesture has lost its ‘gravitas’. Okay, I know that sounds comical – taking the knee has about as much gravitas as a helium balloon – but frankly I don’t care what excuse footballers come up with so long as they ditch it. MailOnline has more.
Although there remain clubs who are still to discuss the ritual with their squads – Newcastle United will consult their team on Tuesday, for example – sources say there is tangible support for only taking the knee before ‘selected’ matches in order to help bring back the meaning.
While the desire for equality remains as strong as ever among top-flight footballers – as does the idea of making impactful statements – it is feared that the taking of the knee at kick-offs has lost its influence.
I hadn’t intended to Fisk this piece, but the desire for equality remains as strong as every among top-flight footballers. Really?!? If they’re so committed to equality, why do they drive supercars, spray Cristal champagne around nightclubs and post pictures of themselves in private jets on Instagram? Let’s move on.
A watered-down version of the gesture is currently the likeliest outcome of talks, although how Premier League clubs would decide which weeks they perform the anti-racism symbol remains to be seen.
It could be reserved for televised matches, thereby ensuring the gesture is seen weekly by millions worldwide, or decided on a game-by-game basis between club representatives in the days leading up to a fixture.
Likewise players are likely to take the knee to mark any No Room For Racism campaigns to ensure they are seen showing support for the Premier League’s pro-equality action plan.
Finalised plans are due to be announced ahead of Friday‘s opener between Arsenal and Leicester – once every club has had the chance to consult their squads and report back to the rest of the group. The Premier League say they will back whatever decision is reached by the players.
At least one top-flight club is not set to take the knee, with players of newly-promoted Bournemouth having concluded the gesture has ‘run its course’.
The Cherries announced in February 2021 – midway through their Championship campaign – that they would stop performing the act. Bournemouth are set to stand by their current stance, still of the opinion that the symbol is not having the impact that was originally intended.
Premier League stars, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, have also expressed concerns that taking the knee has lost its meaning.
Lost its meaning? You can say that again – although I’m not sure it ever had very much in the first place. If footballers really care about ‘equality’, even if it’s only racial equality, why were there only seven black managers in the 92 professional football clubs in England in 2021? And how come they haven’t made a fuss about the World Cup being played in Qatar, given that it has an estimated 30,300 slaves – 1.36% of the population – according to the Global Slavery Index in 2016? Whatever.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Sky News has confirmed today that Premier League footballers will indeed stop taking the knee, apart from on special occasions.