Premier League stars want to STOP taking the knee before every match this season after captains admitted the gesture had lost its gravitas
- The Premier League captains want to stop taking the knee in every match
- Their sides will only perform the gesture in selected matches next campaign
- Players fear that taking the knee has ‘lost gravitas’ since its introduction in 2020
- Bournemouth has agreed to not take the knee before any game this campaign
Premier League stars want to stop taking the knee before every game.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the 20 club captains last Thursday amid rising concerns that the gesture has lost its gravitas. The skippers talked over plans for how to proceed ahead of the new season which starts this Friday when Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Although there remain clubs who are still to discuss the ritual with their squads – Newcastle United will consult their team today, for example – sources say there is tangible support for only taking the knee before ‘selected’ matches in order to help bring back the meaning.
While the desire for equality remains as strong as ever among top-flight footballers – as does the idea of making impactful statements – it is feared that the taking of the knee at kick-offs has lost its influence.
A watered-down version of the gesture is currently the likeliest outcome of talks, although how Premier League clubs would decide which weeks they perform the anti-racism symbol remains to be seen.
It could be reserved for televised matches, thereby ensuring the gesture is seen weekly by millions worldwide, or decided on a game-by-game basis between club representatives in the days leading up to a fixture.
Erling Haaland and Trent Alexander-Arnold took the knee ahead of the Community Shield
Wilfred Zaha was one of the few players who chose not to perform the gesture last campaign
Likewise players are likely to take the knee to mark any No Room For Racism campaigns to ensure they are seen showing support for the Premier League’s pro-equality action plan.
Finalised plans are due to be announced ahead of Friday’s opener between Arsenal and Leicester – once every club has had the chance to consult their squads and report back to the rest of the group. The Premier League say they will back whatever decision is reached by the players.
At least one top-flight club is not set to take the knee, with players of newly-promoted Bournemouth having concluded the gesture has ‘run its course’.
The Cherries announced in February 2021 – midway through their Championship campaign – that they would stop performing the act. Bournemouth are set to stand by their current stance, still of the opinion that the symbol is not having the impact that was originally intended.
Premier League stars, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, have also expressed concerns that taking the knee has lost its meaning.
Harry Maguire and the other Premier League skippers believe the gesture has ‘lost its gravitas’
This is not a view shared by everyone – indeed, there remain strong supporters of the gesture among players in the Premier League and allowing individuals to decide for themselves is an option.
It was Aston Villa and Sheffield United’s players who first took the knee in the top flight in June 2020 – an incredibly powerful gesture at the time and one which was widely praised for its impact. It followed the murder of George Floyd in the United States a month earlier.
Premier League clubs announced ahead of the 2021-22 season that they would continue to take the knee as a ‘symbol of our unity against all forms of racism’. Yet the growing sense that the gesture has lost its gravitas led to a rethink among players in how they should proceed.
Further talks will be held this week before the 20 club captains release a statement via the Premier League confirming their plans for the 2022-23 campaign.
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