Taking the knee BACKED by the EFL ahead of the start of the season following summer where England stars were booed by fans during the pre-match ritual as players ‘REJECT alternative anti-racist gesture’
- Players in the Football League are set to continue taking the knee next term
- After consultation, players have reportedly rejected making alternative gesture
- EFL have now backed the players in their stance with new campaign
- Gesture has been booed by sections of fans, most notably at England games
The Football League has come out in support of players taking the knee this season, as part of launching a new anti-discrimination campaign.
Action resumes across the Championship as well as League One and League Two from this weekend and the governing body of the divisions are keen to continue backing players who since the back end of the 2019-20 campaign have been making the gesture to raise awareness over racism issues.
The EFL have now released a statement ahead of the start of the season, announcing a new ‘Together Against Discrimination’ matchday message ‘which will see cubs across all three divisions adopting a unified position on a matchday reiterating that racism, discrimination and abuse is not welcome’ on and off the pitch.
It comes amid reports from the Telegraph that players have rejected to making an alternative gesture to taking a knee which has proven controversial with sections of supporters.
This was most notable during the summer when England stars were booed by some fans for taking the knee before kick-off during Euro 2020 at Wembley as well as their two pre-tournament warm up fixtures at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
Footballers have been taking the knee before games since the back end of the 2019-20 season as a way of making an anti-racist statement
Some players have also opted to stand as part of their protests against discrimination
Although the booing was often met with response of loud applause by other fan in support of the England players, it is still a major bone of contention among sections of teams’ fanbases across the country.
The EFL claim though in research where they have contacted clubs, players, fans, the public and stakeholders in and out of the game, there has been greater support for taking the knee by its respondents.
EFL chief executive Trevor Birch has claimed that the Football League will continue to support players protesting against discrimination of any form and fans against those values ‘are not welcome.’
England stars had also been making the gesture throughout Euro 2020 including in their final defeat by Italy (above) at Wembley back in July
‘The EFL takes the issue of tackling racism and discrimination, in all its forms, very seriously, Birch said in a statement.
‘But we must always strive to do more. That is why we commissioned an independent research on the issue of anti-discrimination on a matchday to help inform our approach.
‘We have heard the message from players who wish to take the knee loud and clear, and they have the EFL’s support. Likewise, we support any individuals who take a stand against prejudice in other ways, and we must show respect and support to our clubs and players whichever way they choose.
‘Both within the EFL and across the wider game we are committed to working collectively as we are stronger when we all work together against discrimination.
The gesture though has been met with boos by sections of supporters inside stadiums
‘The message is clear – prejudice and abuse – whether in the street, in the stadium or online has no place in society – and the EFL will not accept it.
‘Football is a game with many opinions. But those who do not share our opinion on removing racism and discrimination from our game are not welcome.’
The EFL also stated that the The Not Today or Any Day brand will continue as a visual presence thorugh the season. All anti-discrimination activity will take place under this brand including ‘Together Against Discrimination’ matchday messaging and other equality, diversity and inclusion campaigns to be activated throughout the season.
For this campaign each player and match official will now also wear a new sleeve badge to be worn on their kits for all matches.