What Does Take The Knee Mean & Why Are Premier League Players Doing It?

18 June 2020, 11:12 | Updated: 18 June 2020, 11:15

Premier League players stand with Black Lives Matter and take the knee
Premier League players stand with Black Lives Matter and take the knee. Picture: PA Images

Premier League players took the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as football resumed- so why did they do it and what does 'taking the knee' mean?

The Premier League has finally returned, and players from each team 'took the knee', kneeling down as their matches began, so, why did they do it, what does it mean, and when did it start?

Yes, as players and staff from Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Manchester City and Arsenal knelt in their positions before kick off, people have been asking just why the US phenomenon has landed in the UK- and the answer is show their solidarity and commitment to Black Lives Matter.

Players also replaced the names on the back of their shirt with 'Black Lives Matter' as a further sign of solidarity- and as there was no crowd to watch them, it was a powerful and symbolic move.

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Why did Premier League footballers take the knee?

Premier League players took the knee on the opening night of the league's return after a 100 day break due to the Coronavirus pandemic to show their solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Although the BLM movement has been around for some years, it has taken on new life ever since the murder of George Floyd in America saw protests and renewed efforts to dismantle racism both in the US and across the world.

Taking a knee has been a form of protest during sports, seen as a silent form of making a stand, and has typically been done during the national anthem, however, players from each team knelt during a video of players pledging their support to the movement and to fighting racial inequality.

Raheem Sterling, who has been a vocal activist for eradicating racism in football, said it was a 'massive step' and the sport is moving in the right direction.

Premier League players and staff knelt before their football match started
Premier League players and staff knelt before their football match started. Picture: PA

When did 'taking the knee' begin and who started it?

NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick started kneeling symbolically during the pre-game national anthem in the NFL in 2016, in protest at police violence against black people in the United States, and continued to kneel throughout the season.

His actions sparked fierce debate about racism in the US, with President Donald Trump saying players should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem.

As a result, Colin later went on to be unsigned by any team, and as a top player, it has been seen by many as the sports star being 'frozen out' of the NFL for his protest.

Colin filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league.

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