Premier League players take knee in teams’ first game back

Players during a Premier League soccer match took a knee on Wednesday in protest of police brutality with the words “Black Lives Matter” printed on the backs of their team jerseys.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United players knelt during a game that kicked off the teams’ first day back after the coronavirus pandemic delayed the season.

The moment came a week after league bosses approved players kneeling and gave them the OK to wear the altered uniforms.  

Many professional sports tentatively resumed play just as protests over the police killing of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans swept the nation, prompting athletes to use their platforms to make statements on the issue. 

“We, the Players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their color or creed. This symbol is a sign of unity from all players, all staff, all clubs, all match officials and the Premier League,” Premier League players from all 20 of its teams said in a joint statement.

The slogan on the back of team jerseys will replace players’ names for the first 12 matches of the restarted season, although it remains unclear whether all players will participate, CBS Sports reported.

The teams will also wear badges with the message as well as separate badges thanking the British National Health Service for its work during the pandemic throughout the season.  

The league resumed play Wednesday with no spectators, with Aston Villa playing Sheffield United and Manchester City playing Arsenal.

U.S. Soccer announced it would rescind a policy requiring players stand for the anthem, while President Trump, one of the most vocal detractors of the protests, blasted the move.

Trump also attacked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for a statement in which he acknowledged failures in handling of the player protests, which began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Goodell did not name Kaepernick in his statement.

Tags Colin Kaepernick Donald Trump George Floyd Premier League

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