Crystal Palace and Arsenal players DO take a knee before the opening game of new Premier League season – despite top-flight team captains choosing to limit the use of gesture for only ‘significant moments’
- Arsenal and Crystal Palace stars took a knee before their match at Selhurst Park
- Premier League players have agreed to perform the gesture at certain moments
- But teams will show support for anti-racism in the opening round of fixtures
As Sportsmail forecast on Tuesday, the pre-match gesture will no longer take place before every game this season, but players of the Eagles and Gunners opted to show their commitment to anti-discrimination before the first match of the campaign.
Top flight players are planning to take the knee during the opening round of fixtures which began with Palace v Arsenal, and then again on Boxing Day, the finals of the FA Cup and League Cup, the last day of the season and weeks when the No Room For Racism campaign is active in October and November.
In a collective statement, the top-flight captains said: ‘We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism and in so doing we continue to show solidarity for a common cause.
‘We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.’
Club skippers met a week ago to discuss several of issues. While a number still supported taking the knee, there were opposing views from some who felt the gesture had run its course.
Arsenal and Crystal Palace players took their knee before their opening Premier League clash, despite top flight stars opting to only perform the gesture at significant moments
Premier League clubs have decided to reduce the number of times they take the knee
A compromise has now been found to ensure it remains part of the season but only ahead of certain matches. Having originally said they would not be taking the knee, Bournemouth players will now perform the anti-racism gesture on the days agreed.
While support for equality remains as strong as ever among top-flight footballers, there was some hesitation during last week’s talks to make a definitive decision on how to proceed.
The act of taking the knee before every game was first introduced in 2020 during Project Restart as a show of solidarity following the brutal murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
They will now only take the knee at ‘significant moments’, including on the opening weekend
The gesture has continued despite criticism that the act had political connotations.
Sources have indicated to Sportsmail over the summer that certain figures were keen for the gesture to be scrapped because it was proving too divisive.
In confirming the news, a statement read: ‘Ahead of the new season, Premier League club captains have reaffirmed their commitment to fighting racism and all forms of discrimination.
‘The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to take the knee, to amplify the message that racism has no place in football or society.
‘The Premier League supports the players’ decision and, alongside the clubs, will use these opportunities to elevate anti-racism messaging as part of the League’s No Room for Racism Action Plan.’