Black Lives Matter: Premier League players and officials take a knee at kick off

June 17, 2020

Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Manchester City and Arsenal players, as well as match officials, showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee at kick-off as the Premier League got back under way.

City and Arsenal players followed the example set at Villa Park by taking a knee for around 10 seconds at kick-off following referee Anthony Taylor's opening whistle at the Etihad Stadium.

After City's 3-0 win over Arsenal, Raheem Sterling told Sky Sports: "It's a massive step for the Premier League to allow something like that to happen. It shows we are going in the right direction. Little by little, we are seeing change."

City boss Pep Guardiola added: "I'm embarrassed, I'm ashamed for what white people have done to black people."

What happened at Villa Park?

Earlier, referee Michael Oliver and his officials joined all the players in kneeling ahead of Villa's 0-0 draw against Sheffield United.

"It was absolutely right," said Sky Sports co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe. "It just shows that football is united in opposing racism. You'll see it repeated across the country at all the teams in the Premier League."

Former Villa midfielder Ian Taylor said: "It's massive. Everyone around the world is going to see that. Everyone knows what it means."

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp added: "It's such a powerful image. It just shows you that everyone has had enough. It was an incredible statement from the players."

Villa and Sheffield United also released a joint statement, which read: "Aston Villa and Sheffield United were proud to stand in solidarity with the actions of the players and coaching staff of both football clubs during the first 10 seconds of tonight's Premier League fixture, expressing our collective support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"In the first Premier League fixture of Project Restart, both clubs hope that the act of 'taking a knee' will send a strong message of unity and amplify the many messages of support from Premier League players and the wider football family.

"The directors of both clubs, Dean Smith, Chris Wilder, Jack Grealish and Billy Sharp and the players of United and Villa are in full support of this action.

"We believe that 'taking a knee' at the start of the fixture and after the pre-match minute's silence, allowed both clubs to pay their respects to COVID-19 victims and to show the deep gratitude we all feel for our brave and selfless front-line workers."

As will be the case across the Premier League, the players all warmed up in Black Lives Matters movement T-shirts with names on the back of the match shirts replaced with the same message.

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