Boateng: Very pow­er­ful to take the knee in Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Jason Burt

Jerome Boateng has urged play­ers to take the knee be­fore Cham­pi­ons League matches and says it would be “very pow­er­ful” to do so in next month’s fi­nal in Lis­bon.

Play­ers in the Bun­desliga started the trend of go­ing down on one knee be­fore matches kicked off in sup­port of Black Lives Mat­ter. It was fol­lowed in the Premier League and now Boateng has called for it to con­tinue in Euro­pean foot­ball’s big­gest club com­pe­ti­tion.

The Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal is one of the world’s most watched sport­ing events – with 380mil­lion tun­ing in to the 2018 fi­nal in Kiev be­tween Real Madrid and Liver­pool – and Boateng said it was the ideal global stage to con­tinue the anti-racism protest.

“It’s very pow­er­ful and very im­por­tant that we con­tinue this in the Cham­pi­ons League, espe­cially, of course, in the fi­nal be­cause the whole world will look,” the 31-yearold Bay­ern Mu­nich de­fender said. “It’s im­por­tant to con­tinue, and also in other sports, and hope­fully in some sports that are not back yet, hope­fully they will join us.”

Bay­ern are al­most cer­tainly guar­an­teed a place in the quar­ter-fi­nals, with all eight teams left in the com­pe­ti­tion play­ing in Lis­bon in one­off games, as they lead Chelsea 3-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The sec­ond leg – which was due to be played on March 18 – will be played in Mu­nich on Satur­day, Aug 8. Dur­ing lock­down, the is­sue of racism be­came an in­creas­ingly de­bated topic fol­low­ing the death of Ge­orge Floyd in the United States.

“We talked about it be­fore our break [af­ter the Ger­man sea­son ended], I talked ac­tu­ally to Joshua Kim­mich and Leon Goret­zka about it,” Boateng ex­plained. “They asked me how to sup­port, how does it feel, what hap­pened to you when you were younger, so I could tell them my story, my ex­pe­ri­ences, and why is it so painful and hard to hear those things, or [to have those] ex­pe­ri­ences, and then imagine peo­ple who are younger, maybe they face this for the first time, what you can do, how can peo­ple sup­port it.

“There are some sit­u­a­tions, of course, that are re­ally hard to help, but you can al­ways help in a sit­u­a­tion. When it’s a group against one, and there’s no­body near, you never know, but if there’s some­body near, please call po­lice, help, what­ever, be­cause that can help and save maybe a danger­ous sit­u­a­tion.”

Colin Kaeper­nick started kneel­ing sym­bol­i­cally dur­ing the pregame na­tional an­them in the NFL in 2016 in protest at po­lice vi­o­lence against African-Amer­i­cans. Uefa pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin has voiced his sup­port for foot­ball’s anti-racism protests and the gov­ern­ing body is un­likely to dis­cour­age play­ers from tak­ing a knee.

Player plea: Bay­ern Mu­nich’s Jerome Boateng

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