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Why rode England players in the World Cup Qatar?

After resuming football after the Covid-19 hiatus, the Three Lions have made a gesture against racism and injustice with a 33-game winning streak. England did not take a knee in matches played in September, but will do so in Monday’s Group B opener (November 21) against Iran and throughout the World Cup.

“We discussed taking the knee,” England manager Southgate said. “We feel we have to do it. It’s what we stand for as a team and we’ve done it for a long period of time.

“Of course we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do that in some games, on big occasions.”

Ahead of the start of the current football season, the Premier League leaders chose to use specific catching moments, rather than making a point in every match.

Southgate added, “We feel this is the biggest and we think it’s a powerful statement that will go around the world for young people, in particular, to see that inclusivity is so important.”

Here is everything you need to know about it.

Why do players take a knee?

Tyrone Mings of England takes a knee – in a gesture against racism – before an international friendly match against Romania. (Image: Getty)

Taking a knee is an anti-racism gesture, and the move received a lot of coverage during England’s campaign at Euro 2020 last year. Troy Townsend, Head of Player Engagement at Kick It Out, explained the procedure in a statement released on June 3, 2021.

He said: “The kneeling was a gesture chosen by the players as a stand for more racial equality in football. It is important to reiterate that they have said explicitly that it was not intended to be associated with any particular political movement.

“All players and staff proudly wearing The Three Lions jersey share a collective voice in the fight against racism. To those who booed, we ask that you support them no matter what gesture they use.

“The actions and support of all fans can send a powerful message across the country that football is united in the fight against racism.”

Premier League players have begun to take a knee before matches following the death of Georgeloyd at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin. The campaign is inspired by the kneeling protest organized by American football star Colin Kaepernick in 2016, which has since become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Players kneel against racism ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match between England and Scotland at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 18, 2021 (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Will England be fined?

Armbands will no longer be worn, according to a joint declaration from the seven European countries that signed up to the One Love campaign, which included England and Wales.

“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear bandanas on the field of play,” the statement began. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they can face sporting penalties including booking, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear armbands atIFA World Cup matches.”

Harry Kane was due to wear the OneLove armband against Iran, while Wales captain Gareth Bale was set to wear it against the USA later that evening. The band features the rainbow colors of the pride flag and was meant to make a bold statement in Qatar, a country that criminalizes same-sex partnerships.

The statement continued: “We were willing to pay the fines normally applicable to violations of the Equipment Regulations and we have a strong commitment to wearing the driver’s armband. However, we cannot place our players in a situation where they may be booked or even forced off the field of play.

FIFA revealed its own plans for the badge to showcase a series of social initiatives at every level of the tournament on Saturday (November 19).

It seems unlikely that England could be fined for pulling on the knee, as the gesture does not breachIFA’s group regulations which stipulate that no political, religious or personal slogans, sentiments or images should be displayed on players’ kits. Nor does it directly interfere with the gameplay.

Why do some fans frown on this gesture?

Most of those who opposed this gesture failed to give a clear explanation as to why they booed them on the knee. Some have said that the gesture’s connection to the Black Lives Matter movement is the reason they are being mocked.

Conservative MP for Dudley Marco Longhi said fans wanted to watch football “without having the agenda of a Marxist supporter organization smacking their throats with overpaid donas”.

Lee Anderson, also a Conservative MP, has called for a boycott of the English matches.

He said, “For the first time in my life I will not watch my beloved England team while they support a political movement whose fundamental principles aim to undermine our way of life.”

Some footballers stopped taking a knee during the Premier League season, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, but he made it clear his decision was a personal one and he would continue to have “full respect” for those “who continue to take a knee”.

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