Chelsea players, coach take a knee as Kick it Out backs protests
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LONDON – Chelsea lent their weight to anti-racism protests on Tuesday as players and coaches all “took a knee” before training to offer their support to the Black Lives Matter movement.
After a similar gesture by Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and his players did on Monday, Chelsea's players knelt on their training pitch, forming the letter H, for humans.
Premier League players and clubs have been quick to show their support, in the wake of the death of American George Floyd last week, in police custody.
Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta said the players and club wanted to “use our position to express that we are living in a world where we have to try to improve it for the future, to be a better world with more love, without hate.
“We have seen recently the result of racism and we see every day that that kind of hate has to be eradicated from society, and we have to play our part,” he told Chelsea's website.
“We know the young generation is coming behind us and we want to leave them in a better world with more possibilities without any kind of discrimination or racism, so everything matters and it is time to speak up and to face up to the attitudes that we are seeing. There is no place for all of this.”
“Chelsea is a club that leads by example, always on the front foot in tackling racism and all kinds of discrimination.”
Before training at Cobham this morning, the Chelsea players and coaching staff formed the letter H, for humans, and knelt in a show of support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. pic.twitter.com/yI6kAywa93
— Chelsea FC (at 🏡) (@ChelseaFC) June 2, 2020
Meanwhile, the head of anti-racism group Kick it Out, Sanjay Bhandari says footballers should feel free to protest.
“If they feel they want to protest, then they should. They should feel free to do that,” Bhandari told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday.
“It's a fundamental human right to express your beliefs. My suggestion is that they should take a knee.
“I would say that taking a knee when you score a goal and have the whole team do it, the referee is not going to book an entire team. It's a very powerful image and a gesture of solidarity.”
Bhandari also asked German officials to use “common sense” around protests from several players during weekend matches.
Political protests are outlawed by the national federation DFB, but DFB president Fritz Keller has expressed understanding and “great respect” for them, and DFB sports court chairman Hans E Lorenz told dpa he believes “the control committee will treat the issue with prudence and judgement.”
The entire squad knelt in Anfield's centre circle ahead of today's training session in a powerful show of support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
— Liverpool FC (at 🏠) (@LFC) June 1, 2020
England winger Jadon Sancho was booked in the Bundesliga for an undershirt that said: “Justice for George Floyd” after scoring for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. But the DFB has said he got the mandatory booking for taking off his shirt, not for the protest.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster, on loan at Swansea, are among others to make their voices heard in England in recent days.
Arsenal also lent their support via social media Tuesday, posting a blacked-out Twitter post with the words: “We stand against racism.
“We stand side by side with our black community. We stand with our black players of the past, present and future. We celebrate diversity. We belong together.”