Leeds United players to take a stand against racism again as Premier League captains revise stance on taking the knee

Premier League captains have decided that players will not take the knee ahead of every fixture in the 2021/2022 season.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:42 am

In a statement released by the Premier League, the division’s captain reaffirmed their commitment to fighting racism and discrimination in all forms but have opted to change the way they communicate this message.

Hailing from abolitionist and civil rights movements from centuries past, the gesture was initially adopted in a sporting context by San Francisco 49ers quarter-back Colin Kaepernick, who first knelt during the US national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and racial inequality in 2016.

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Since the start of the 2020/2021 season, Premier League players have been taking the knee ahead of kick-off, while Gareth Southgate’s England players also committed to the gesture during the Euro 2020 tournament.

The gesture has been the subject of controversy, with boos heard at various top flight grounds across the country while players take a stand against discrimination.

Critics have argued that the protest is ‘empty’, that it loses its power through repetition, and Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha claimed it was ‘degrading’ as he became the first player to stop taking the knee.

This term, Premier League players have decided to amplify the protest by picking specific moments in the season in order to make the gesture.

Leeds United's English midfielder Adam Forshaw (C) and other players take a knee in support of anti-racism campaigns ahead of the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on December 18, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

Instead of every game, players will take the knee before kick-off in each team’s opening game, the dedicated No Room for Racism matches in October and March, the Boxing Day games, final day matches and at the FA Cup and EFL Cup Finals.

On Saturday at Elland Road, United players will kneel before facing their first Premier League game of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but won’t repeat the gesture until their dedicated No Room for Racism fixture in October.

In a statement, the Premier League captains explained: “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 eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”

Meanwhile, the Premier League has matched the £119,000 raised by sales of No Room for Racism badges on club shirts last season to make up a £238,000 total to be donated to designated youth clubs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace stands as players from both side's take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Brentford at Selhurst Park on August 21, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Leeds United players stand underneath the "No Room for Racism" hand shake board ahead of the Premier League match between Southampton and Leeds United at St Mary's Stadium on October 16, 2021 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)