Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said Premier League teams should not stop “taking the knee,” after club captains decided to limit the pre-match anti-racism gesture to only some significant matches from the new season.
The Black Lives Matter cause was taken up by Premier League clubs in 2020 following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May that year. Clubs wore the Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts before it was replaced by “No Room for Racism.”
But whether players should continue taking a knee before games has divided opinion across sport, with some analysts saying the gesture, first performed by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016, was in danger of becoming diluted.
Players will take the knee during the opening match round of the new season, “No Room for Racism” match rounds in October and March, Boxing Day fixtures after the World Cup, league matches on the final day of the season and FA Cup and EFL Cup finals.
“We can’t stop straight away because there are statements to make,” Vieira told reporters ahead of the team’s campaign opener at home against his former side Arsenal on Friday.
“It is important to keep taking the knee because we are all against discrimination. There will be a few occasions where we will keep doing it. It will be a long fight and that’s why we still have to take the knee.”
Meanwhile, Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch said taking the knee was “absolutely the right thing.”
“I love the fact that there’s been an appreciation of diversity in our sport which I think our sport is the most unique than any in the world,” Marsch said.
“It’s not just racial, it’s international, it’s cultural, it’s religion. It’s everything.
“... Whether we take a knee or not I know here that we have a massive appreciation for all of the different people we have.”