Top flight to ex­tend its BLM cam­paign

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan, Ben Rumsby and Jeremy Wil­son

The Black Lives Mat­ter cam­paign led by Pre­mier League foot­ballers will con­tinue into the new sea­son, with Arse­nal and Liver­pool tak­ing a knee in the FA Com­mu­nity Shield to­mor­row.

Cap­tains of the 20 top-tier clubs are also set to meet within days to dis­cuss plans to main­tain aware­ness through­out the cam­paign, af­ter the league in­di­cated it will con­tinue to al­low player-led demon­stra­tions.

Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chiefs, mean­while, have given the play­ers their bless­ing to take a knee to­mor­row, and are plan­ning to beam an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion mes­sages on the sta­dium big screens at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

The gov­ern­ing body is also open to al­low­ing Eng­land play­ers to take the same stand when in­ter­na­tional foot­ball re­sumes next week, The

Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands. Sources close to the player-led cam­paign said Pre­mier League

cap­tains agreed to main­tain their aware­ness cam­paigns be­fore land­mark protests in Amer­i­can sport, which in­cluded the NBA post­pon­ing three play-off games af­ter the Mil­wau­kee Bucks called off their fix­ture in protest at the shoot­ing of Ja­cob Blake.

In an in­ter­view with The Daily

Tele­graph, Ged Grebby, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Show Racism the Red Card, said elite play­ers were de­ter­mined to prove that demon­stra­tions which be­gan fol­low­ing the restart were not a one-off. He said there had been a will­ing­ness ex­pressed to take part in an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gramme within the game, and that let­ters had been sent out to clubs across the coun­try.

“I’m 58 years old and I’ve been in­volved in this area since I was 16 but I’ve never known a move­ment like this in my life,” he said, adding that the cur­rent era in sport and be­yond has the po­ten­tial to be “com­pa­ra­ble” to the Amer­i­can civil rights move­ment.

Pre­mier League cap­tains have planned a meet­ing in which they will agree on ac­tion for the new sea­son. There are no plans to con­tinue to wear Black Lives Mat­ter in­stead of names on shirts, but Eng­land’s top tier is un­likely to stand in their way if they agree to con­tinue to take a knee as they did dur­ing the fi­nal weeks of last sea­son.

On to­mor­row’s planned protest, the FA said: “Play­ers in both the women’s and men’s FA Com­mu­nity Shield matches this week­end will take a knee be­fore kick-off in or­der to show sol­i­dar­ity to the black com­mu­nity and to high­light in­equal­ity and in­jus­tice ex­pe­ri­enced by this com­mu­nity. The FA will con­tinue to sup­port any player who wishes to take a stand against dis­crim­i­na­tion in a re­spect­ful man­ner, which in­cludes tak­ing a knee.”

Foot­ballers’ will­ing­ness to con­tinue the aware­ness cam­paign – which was sparked by protests in the United States at the be­gin­ning of June over the death of Ge­orge Floyd – is likely to see an­other rip­ple ef­fect in other sports.

Chris Grant, a Sport Eng­land board mem­ber and one of the most se­nior black sports of­fi­cials in the coun­try, said there was a “real pos­si­bil­ity” that Bri­tish teams would fol­low the ex­am­ple set by US sport af­ter Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back by po­lice on Sun­day in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin.

In base­ball, three MLB games were called off af­ter teams de­cided not to play, and five MLS matches have been post­poned. Ten­nis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of a WTA match yes­ter­day.

“Frankly, if I were sports bod­ies in this coun­try, I would be ner­vous,” Grant said. “Be­cause they’ve made prom­ises and state­ments. Peo­ple are go­ing to be watch­ing and judg­ing what ac­tu­ally changes in the next few weeks and months, let alone years, and if things seem to re­cur that are symp­toms of prob­lems then I think ath­letes are em­bold­ened not just to say what they think but to vote with their feet, as has hap­pened in the States.”

English foot­ballers had been speak­ing out against racism long be­fore protests this sum­mer. Last Oc­to­ber, Eng­land’s Euro 2020 qual­i­fier against Bul­garia in Sofia was twice halted be­fore half-time due to racist abuse di­rected at Ty­rone Mings and Mar­cus Rash­ford. Grant said lead­er­ship shown by man­ager Gareth South­gate set the tone for help­ing play­ers be­come more em­bold­ened to take a stand.

Protest: The Wash­ing­ton Mys­tics basketball team wear white T-shirts with seven bul­lets on the back fol­low­ing the shoot­ing of Ja­cob Blake by po­lice in Wis­con­sin

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