The Premier League season resumed on Wednesday evening and there was a moment of great unity demonstrated from the division’s stars.
Aston Villa took on Sheffield United in the earlier game, and every player from both teams knelt down and “took the knee” to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the tragic death of American citizen George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in late May, the Black Lives Matter campaign has received deserved publicity in recent weeks.
Floyd died as a result of a white police officer holding his knee on the unarmed black man’s neck for almost nine minutes.
“Black Lives Matter” has replaced each players’ name on the back of their shirts for the first round of fixtures since the Premier League’s resumption.
What does “taking the knee” mean?
In 2016, American football star Colin Kaepernick knelt during the United States’ national anthem in the build-up to the San Francisco 49ers’ match against San Diego Chargers.
This powerful act was performed to protest against police brutality against black people in the US.
The 32-year-old was then frozen out of the NFL for disrespecting the country’s national anthem and has not been signed by a team since.
However, with such powerful protests all over the world since the death of Floyd - clubs may be more willing to sign Kaepernick now.
What’s happened in the Premier League?
As referee Michael Oliver blew his whistle to signal the start of the match between Villa and the Blades; every player, staff member and match official took a knee to show their support of the movement.
Both clubs issued a joint statement saying they “were proud to stand in solidarity” after the show of support.
The same happened in the evening’s later game between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.
The remaining matches of the first round of the fixtures are expected to do the same once the referee blows the whistle.
What’s been said about it?
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling believes players kneeling together was a “massive step” and it shows they’re going in the right direction.
“It shows we’re going in the right direction,” the City star said to Sky Sports.
“Little by little, we’re seeing change. It was natural, it was organic. We saw the teams do it in the earlier kick-off and thought it was something we had to do as well.”
Man City boss Pep Guardiola said following his side’s victory over the Gunners: “White people should say sorry for the way we have treated black people for 400 years. I am ashamed of what we have done to black people around the world.
“It is not only in the USA where it has happened. The problem is everywhere. Maybe for our generation, it is too late but for the following generations, they can understand the only race is ourselves. We are human beings. It doesn’t matter the colour of our skin.”
Former City defender Micah Richards was delighted to see everyone showing their unity and solidarity over the matter.
“It’s massive, taking a knee. We don’t know the power of football, of sports, and to see all the players doing it, it was absolutely fantastic,” Richards said on Sky Sports.
“I hope everyone’s watching across the world. We know there’s a lot of injustice that has happened, but it’s just great to see that from the players.”
Former Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison admitted the decision to take the knee from everyone involved in both games “touched his heart”.
Morrison said to BBC Radio 5 Live: “That touched my heart. I didn’t expect that. It was magnificent. Credit to both sets of players and staff.”