The chairman of Kick It Out has called on every Premier League player to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter amid the global response to the killing of George Floyd.
Sanjay Bhandari also called on the German Football Association (DFB) not to sanction the Bundesliga quartet of Jadon Sancho, Achraf Hakimi, Marcus Thuram and Weston McKennie for their protests over the weekend.
Thuram knelt in solidarity with those protesting in the U.S. and beyond, while McKennie wore a supportive armband and Sancho and Hakimi revealed undershirts demanding 'Justice for George Floyd'.
The DFB are investigating each incident, due to International Football Association Board (IFAB) rules which forbid “undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer's logo.”
On Monday, Liverpool released an image of their first-team squad kneeling around the centre circle at Anfield with the words ‘Unity is Strength’.
“I hope there will be a degree of leniency shown by the German authorities,” Bhandari said.
“I’m not sure how you can sanction Marcus Thuram. I don’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s just taken a knee.
“I wonder if that’s the thing I would encourage if players want to protest. If you score a goal and take a knee could everyone do that? Not just the black players. The white players too – everyone.
“Every player should do it. It should be teams doing it. You saw the Erling Haaland celebration after the first game back where all the Borussia Dortmund players did the social-distancing celebration. They could all take a knee.
“Racism’s not about black players or brown fans. It’s about all of us. Racism corrodes society and we’re all hurt by it. Everyone should want to demonstrate their solidarity and disgust.”
If players do take action, authorities will have to decide whether they are contravening regulations in doing so.
Bhandari does not believe there is any problem with players taking a knee – the form of protest popularised by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
“I would like to encourage the players to protest if they want to but I would also like to encourage them to do it in a way that doesn’t expose them to unnecessary sanction,” Bhandari said.
“If they could do that by taking a knee, if every player did that, it would be quite a powerful message.
“I would be interested to hear what the authorities thought of that, whether it would constitute a breach of the rules. To me, that is about demonstrating solidarity.”