The chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association has backed plans by Premier League players to stop taking the knee before every match.
Maheta Molango said his members would have his full support if they ceased performing the anti-racism gesture en masse on a regular basis. Accepting something that has become a routine was in danger of losing its power, he said: “It’s for the players to decide what they want to do on a personal level. I think it’s a very personal choice and we’ll be supporting whatever decision they make.
“Taking the knee wasn’t politics. It was about sending a strong message, sparking a discussion. It’s a question of finding the right balance. Don’t turn it into a routine, because a routine maybe loses power. But let’s not just lose the opportunity to use that to spark a conversation, not just in England, but also overseas, using the fact that the Premier League is very strong internationally as well.”
Taking the knee has been a regular feature of English football since the summer of 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the US by a policeman and was viewed as a crucial symbol in the sport’s fight against discrimination.
Its importance has been regularly debated and certain clubs, most recently Championship sides Bristol City and Swansea, have decided to stop performing the gesture.
A meeting between the 20 Premier League captains took place last Thursday with the topic of whether to keep taking the knee debated, but, after a wide variety of views, no final decision was taken.
A handful of high-profile players have long declined to take the knee, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso.
Promoted Bournemouth also stopped doing so a year and a half ago, saying at the time: “Fighting all forms of discrimination and creating an equal, inclusive society is something that we feel very passionately about.
“But that is defined by much more than a gesture, which we feel has run its course and is no longer having the effect it first did."
Clubs were due to hold internal discussions this week, with Newcastle United reportedly doing so yesterday. Decisions are expected imminently ahead of the opening game of the season between Palace and Arsenal on Friday.
England’s players are expected to continue to take the knee before matches as they prepare for the World Cup in Qatar, despite the gesture being booed by fans during last summer’s European Championship.