Anti-racism gesture to resume for the next two weeks of Premier League hostilities

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Teams in the English Premier League would go on their knees before the commencement of proceedings, in the next two weekend matches to show oneness in the fight against racism. 

Matches in the top echelon of English Football, between the 11th and 19th of February, would be made purposefully in the tussle aimed at tackling racism.

Premier League players and refree taking the knee before a game

The fight against racism in the Premier League, has been tagged the “No Room for Racism” campaign and many stakeholders in England want to eradicate the menace from the consciousness of many. 

Captains of football teams all came to a consensus in August to restrict the taking the knee gesture to only moments that are important other than every match. 

This move was done in making the anti-racism gesture not to be a mere formality, but a gesture that would hit home in the best manner possible. 

Retired Newcastle United forward, Shola Ameobi speaking about the importance of the anti-racism gesture said: “Taking the knee is more than a gesture, it says we must keep working to eradicate racism.”

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Former Newcastle United forward, Shola Ameobi

The usefulness of the anti-racism gesture and what taking the knee implies:

Earlier this season in October teams in the Premier League took the knee as part of the “No Room for Racism” push. 

The anti-racism movement was done in all the matches of the first league games this season, alongside Boxing day fixtures in late December. 

In November, Shola Ameobi was part of seven past footballers to join its Player to Executive Pathways Scheme (PEPS).

What the PEPS initiative offers players from diverse backgrounds

The Player to Executive Pathways Scheme (PEPS) initiative, offers former players from different backgrounds ethnically the opportunity to experience the running of football clubs. 

It also further sorts to provide an improved range of individuals that can be in positions of leadership. 

“It’s always been an aspiration of mine to help the club and inspire the next generation,” said Sola Ameobi. 

He further added:

“If you don’t see yourself represented in the boardroom, it’s hard to have the confidence to be there.”

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Zaha’s position in the battle against racism

Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace stance on taking the knee was established in 2021, with the footballer saying that he wil not take a knee as a result of the protest not being sufficient anymore.

Wilfred Zaha standing whilst the Anti-racism gesture was ongoing.
Wilfred Zaha standing whilst other players were kneeling

The Crystal Palace forward at the time declared to “stand tall” with the footballer adding: “I feel like taking a knee is degrading,”.

Wilfred Zaha’s take at the FT Business of Football conference

While speaking to FT Business of Football conference, Wilfred Zaha said: “Growing up, my parents just let me know that I should just be proud to be black, no matter what, and I just think we should stand tall.

“I think the meaning behind the whole thing is becoming something that we just do now. That’s not enough. I’m not going to take the knee.”

Before the 2021 Premier League season got underway, there were little scuffles with the tag phrase to be used, either that of the “Black Lives Matter” or the “No Room for Racism”. 

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The Premier League went for the “No Room for Racism”, as Zaha also made connotations of him not wearing the jersey with “Black Lives Matter” inscribed at the back because it feels like it’s a target. 

In that conversation, Zaha felt that the protest and agitations against racism has not yielded any positive. 

“We are trying to say we are equal but these things are not working,” he said. “Unless there’s change, don’t ask me about it. Unless action is going to happen I don’t want to hear about it.”

Players of Brentford in the 2020/21 league season, put an halt to taking the knee on a weekend fixture in the month of February in 2021.

After collectively deciding that the football’s anti-racism gesture “no longer” has any influence, the Premier League thought it wisely to ensure the gesture against racism is stipulated on matchdays that are important or already mapped out. 

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