LONDON (AP) — Premier League players will continue to take a knee before games during the 2021-22 season in an anti-racism gesture.
The league said Tuesday it “wholeheartedly supported” the decision and confirmed that players and match officials will also continue to wear “No Room For Racism” badges on their shirts.
“We feel now, more than ever,” the players said in a group statement released by the league, “it is important for us to continue to take the knee as a symbol of our unity against all forms of racism. We remain resolutely committed to our singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect and equal opportunities for all.”
Players began the practice in June 2020 in empty stadiums when games resumed following a stoppage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The gesture was part of calls to eradicate racial injustice in society following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Pockets of England fans booed their players for taking a knee in warmup matches ahead of the European Championship and again before a tournament game against Croatia.
Manchester United players issued their own statement, saying they “fully support” the league-wide decision.
“We have said many times as individuals, a team and a club that we are united against racism,” they said. “We need to keep demonstrating that message — now more than ever. We hope these actions continue to have an impact and lead to positive change, especially with fans back supporting us in the stadium.
“Racist abuse in any form on any platform cannot be tolerated and together we must keep fighting it,” they added.
United striker Marcus Rashford was among the Black players for England who were subjected to racist abuse online after they missed penalty kicks in the decisive European Championship shootout against Italy.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the league has had “a long-standing commitment” to fight racism.
“Following our club captains’ meeting, that collective commitment was reaffirmed and the Premier League will continue to support the players’ strong voice on this important issue,” he said. “The Premier League will continue to work with our clubs, players and football partners to bring about tangible change to remove inequality from our game,” he said.