Footballers are to be offered an alternative to taking knee under new plans to end the ongoing toxic divide, according to reports.
The English Football League has launched a wide-ranging consultation over a unified approach around anti-discrimination activity on match-days.
Over the last year and a half, we have see a much publicised stand-off between players and fans over the gesture.
With the divide continuing to cause a stir over the pre-match ritual, including the booing of it by England supporters during the European Championship, talks have begun to find a different way of promoting an anti-racism message before games, after all, we don’t want to be starting games booing now do we?
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 17, 2021
The EFL on Wednesday confirmed it had launched talks over a unified approach around anti-discrimination activity on match-days in its competitions.
Public First, known to be specialists when it comes to public policy and research, have been appointed to survey players, clubs, supporters and other stakeholders for their views, including on taking the knee and potential alternatives to the stance.
Any changes to current EFL match-day activity will be launched in time for the 2021/22 season, when clubs hope to be able to welcome large crowds back to games following the coronavirus crisis.
Players who wish to continue to take the knee will not be prevented from doing so, sticking to what they believe in should they want to continue doing it, but an alternative may be the potential solvent.
Many want them to stop performing a gesture its advocates insist is a show of support for racial equality, yet its critics claim is tantamount to an endorsement of the more radical policies of the Black Lives Matter movement.
EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “The EFL is committed to tackling all forms of discrimination and recognises the important role football can play in the fight against racism and prejudice. Earlier this year, the EFL and its clubs agreed to review the collective approach to anti-discrimination activity on a match-day, with consideration given to centralised activity across the league.
“To inform any campaign, it was considered absolutely essential that we undertake a comprehensive programme of research and consultation in order to establish what fans, players, clubs and many others connected to the game want to see on an EFL match-day.
“As we strive to make our stadia inclusive, accessible and welcoming for all, this work will consider how the EFL can improve its match-day operation, collate views on taking the knee across the game and use the findings to inform our work going forward.”
Fans have jeered footballers for taking the knee in the few matches with crowds since the Covid crisis began. That includes England’s opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia as well as their two warm-up games, despite repeated pleas for spectators not to do so.
Taking the knee will happen again in the game between England and Scotland on friday, with both teams’ players doing it, despite the Scots choosing not to in the game against Czech Republic.
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) June 17, 2021
Some EFL clubs and players have refused to perform the gesture amid concerns it has lost its meaning since it was brought in following the murder of George Floyd in the US.
As revealed by Telegraph Sport, Brentford will become the first Premier League team to do so following their promotion last month. They have been doing it since February, but since their promotion, they’ll be the first in the top tier of English football to not do the stance.
The captains of other Premier League clubs will discuss towards the start of next season whether they and their team-mates continue.
This was the scene at Boxpark Croydon when seeing England players doing stance before the game during the Euros, nothing but clapping…
Fans applaud England taking the knee. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SFzn6lbko0
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) June 13, 2021
Fans reacted after seeing that footballers are to be offered an alternative to taking the knee…
@Kingwolf84: Or perhaps they could tell the racist’s that they have two choices – either stop being racist & support the players or don’t come to the club!
@JamesStarritt: They could get rid of the racists that boo and fill their stadiums with decent people… just a thought
@sinister79: Crumbled to a few Neanderthals. Just stand with your fist in the air and let’s see what the next excuse is from those that don’t like it
@AmosMurphy_: Offering an “alternative” to an anti-racism campaign is not a good look
@DiCiccoMethod: Deal with the racism or not deal with the racism but find a new performative way to make it look like you’re interested in dealing with the racism without actually ever dealing with the racism?
@phillipbupp: These people booing are the people who are throwing bananas and making monkey noises and calling players the n-word on social media. “You’re known by the company you keep.” So to cater to these people, then maybe these teams are racist too.
@samuraihawk: Gotta lessen the gesture to appease the ❄️ racists. Because we always put the weak-minded first.
@callummc1: Maybe racists could be offered an alternative to booing
@J_hanwell: Wow. Basically ‘taking the knee forces too much uncomfortable conversations, can you please do something that we would all forget please’
@PEteacher1971: How about offering an alternative to the booing fans… like stop being racist?
@RealDavidHardy: Pandering to the noisy minority?
@domhev: Alternative = letting the racists win.
@michaelfollett: How about the players address the crowd every week and update them on how they’ve actively tackled racism since the last game?