Premier League captains decide players will kneel selectively for greater impact this season

    Premier League soccer players will stop kneeling before every game this season and instead will limit the number of times they use the gesture. The decision to selectively take a knee came from the Premier League captains and not the league itself.

    “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,” said the Premier League captains in a statement Wednesday. “We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”

    Players will be able to kneel during the opening game of the season on Friday through the weekend, two weeks of match rounds dedicated to racism awareness in October and March, Boxing Day, on the final day of the season and before the FA Cup and EFL Cup Finals.

    Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette (center) and other players take a knee before the start of the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Southampton at Emirates stadium in London in a December 2021 match.

    The Premier League captains consulted with other players on the decision and concluded that taking in a knee less will have a greater impact. Black players such as Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who stopped kneeling in early 2021, previously said in a statement the protest after the opening whistle “has just become a part of the pre-match routine” and that players still receive abuse.

    Premier League players kneeling was inspired by Colin Kaepernick and other American players’ protests during the national anthem. The silent protest grew more prevalent during the global  Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

    Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said that the league met with players last week and approve any choice they decided on.

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    “For two years now taking the knee has become part of the pre-match ritual,” Masters told BBC Sport on Tuesday. “The players fear it’s losing power and momentum and we will see it take place in a different format.”

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Premier League to kneel less for greater impact on anti-racism effort

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