Sanjay Bhandari: “You can’t shake hands before kick off, so maybe they could replace it with a new pre-match ritual”
Last Updated: 08/06/20 7:29pm
Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari has suggested footballers could start ‘taking a knee’ prior to matches, in a show of solidarity with the anti-racism
demonstrations sweeping the world.
Thousands of people have taken part in Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the world following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the practice of taking a knee during the American national anthem in 2016, as a protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the USA.
While Bhandari stressed any mass mobilisation must come from footballers themselves, he suggested it would be a ‘strong gesture’ if they started taking the knee before matches.
He said: “I think it’s at the point now where something should be organised.
“I would love to see every club doing something together but it has to be completely up to the players. It would be a fantastic signal if every club took a knee before a game.
“You can’t shake hands before kick off, so maybe they could replace it with a new pre-match ritual.
“We’re having some conversations to see what the appetite is. I think it would be a strong gesture of solidarity if everybody took a knee, but it would be an even stronger symbol if it came from the players.”
The FA has indicated it will take a “common sense” approach to such protests and Bhandari said, while the response from the authorities provided cause for optimism, gestures in the direction of anti-racism must be transformed into something more tangible.
He said: “It is a small but significant step and I certainly value and appreciate that FIFA and UEFA and the FA have got it right in their response, judging by the tone and the public mood.
“All these gestures are important but our challenge now is to go beyond these gestures and confront these structural inequalities, not just in football but in society, politics and business.
“For those people who are influencers, who have provided these gestures of solidarity, I’ve got one request – you need to stay involved.
“We are going to need your help to solve those structural problems.
“We are going to need teamwork and determination and, once the media spotlight has gone. we need to carry on spreading the message.”