France stars chose NOT to take a knee before their Euro 2020 clash against Germany – despite doing so in their warm-up matches – amid concerns the gesture is ‘dividing more than uniting’
France footballers abandoned plans to ‘take the knee’ before their crunch European Championship match against Germany – because of fears that the gesture was ‘dividing more than uniting’.
Les Bleus, a team full of Premier League stars, had planned to go down on one knee before Tuesday’s game against Germany in Munich, which they won 1-0.
Many of the players have backgrounds in former French colonies such as Algeria and Mali, and are acutely sensitive to racism
Hugo Lloris explained France chose not take a knee before their match against Germany
The game between two Euro 2020 favourites began without either of them taking a knee
But they were troubled by fierce arguments played out in the media before the game, and so decided to abandon the gesture.
‘It was a collective decision,’ said Hugo Lloris, the France captain who also plays for Tottenham Hotspur.
Discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, Lloris said that it was supported by all Premier League clubs, but this was not the case at Euro 2020, which was postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We assume that if we have to do it, all the nations must do it with the support of UEFA,’ said Lloris.
‘This is the case in Premier League, where the movement is united. In this competition, it is less the case.
‘This does not mean that we do not support the cause, we especially do not want racism in our sport and in society.’
Another France squad member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: ‘The truth is that players were concerned about the fierce reaction to the gesture, and felt that it was dividing more than uniting.’
Far Right politicians in France were particularly critical of the knee taking in previoys matches, saying it was deliberately provocative.
‘I regret the taking of the knee by the France team,’ said Thierry Mariani, a former minister and now a member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party.
‘It’s an operation imported from a foreign country that has nothing to do with France. I believe in the neutrality of sport.’
The French players have previously been criticised for taking a knee – here, they are pictured doing so before their Euro 2020 warm-up match against Wales
The England team took a knee in the moments before their match with Croatia at Wembley
Florian Philippot, Le Pen’s former deputy and now the leader of the Patriots party, said taking the knee was ‘shameful’, because it ‘divides communities’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those who have blasted England’s footballers for taking the knee, labelling the act ‘gesture politics’.
Ms Patel did not condemn football fans who had booed players for taking the knee, calling it a ‘choice for them’ after Gareth Southgate’s side faced jeers from a minority of fans at their first match of Euro 2020.
She told GB News: ‘I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well.’
Ms Patel claimed Black Lives Matter protests last summer had a ‘devastating’ impact on policing, and particulary criticised the toppling of the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.