Sports

EPL clubs dump anti-racism knee gesture

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Premier League clubs will not take the knee in every match this season amid concerns the gesture has lost its gravitas.

At a meeting last Thursday between all 20 Premier League captains, it was agreed that the knee would only be taken in selected matches this campaign, according to Mail Plus.

It is not yet known how and when the top-flight clubs will decide to perform the anti-racism symbol.

Players are still likely to take the knee during primetime television fixtures and local derbies – but the top-flight skippers are eager not to overuse the gesture in fear that it loses all meaning.

Despite last Thursday’s agreement, there reportedly remain a few Premier League captains yet to discuss the plan with their respective squads.

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The Premier League have said they will support whatever decision is reached by the players but only once each squad has been consulted.

It is expected that the governing body will then make an announcement ahead of the opening game of the season, which sees Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace on Friday.

Meanwhile, newly-promoted Bournemouth have confirmed to Sportsmail that their squad will not perform the gesture in any match this season, feeling that the motion has ‘run its course’.

The gesture, initiated both to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter and stamp out racism in football, has been commonplace at the start of every Premier League match since June 2020.

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Last summer, top flight clubs announced they would continue to take the knee as a ‘symbol of unity against all forms of racism’ ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

But there remained a feeling amongst some players that the gesture had lost its influence – Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has refused to take the knee since 2021.

Both Manchester City and Liverpool took the knee ahead of the Community Shield curtain raiser on Saturday.

However, Sportsmail understands that England still plan to take the knee at the World Cup in Qatar and bid to make a powerful statement of equality.

The FA will let England’s players decide whether to press ahead with the pre-match gesture in the new international season and at the World Cup.

Gareth Southgate’s team are under growing pressure to speak out against the human rights abuses that have occurred in Qatar in the lead-up to the tournament.

Sportsmail understands a core group of England players still believe that taking the knee is an important and impactful gesture — particularly at a tournament such as the World Cup.

England players took the knee during the Women’s European Championship this summer and early indicators from the men’s camp suggest there is support for them to take the same stance in Qatar.

It remains to be seen, however, if the national team will be influenced by the decision taken by top-flight players. Mailonline

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