June 14, (THEWILL)- The European football governing body, UEFA, has taken a tough stance against the inclination towards racism that has seen widespread condemnation as it encroaches into sports.
In its determined push, the Association noted that it will support protests against racism during the Euro 2020 matches, including if the referees join and take a knee in solidarity with teams that decide to kneel before their matches.
In a statement on Sunday, which was a direct response to the events before the Euros 2020 competition fixture between Belgium and Russia, UEFA said it was supporting “any player or official” who wishes to kneel, saying they were allowed to do so.
THEWILL recalls that the referee, Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, a Spanish association football referee who has refereed La Liga matches since 2008 and who is also an international referee with experience in FIFA World Cup matches, joined the Belgian players to kneel before the kick-off in St Petersburg.
As a consequence, there were loud whistles and boos from the crowd at the arena in the game that Belgium ended up winning by a 3-nil margin. It started a debate about the involvement of match officials in the action that has not been without diverging views.
THEWILL recalls that the history of the action of kneeling ahead of a sports events began in 2016. Then, the NFL quarterback American Colin Kaepernick initiated it as his way of drawing attention in the U.S. to instances of racism that he believed needed to be focussed on.
Since then, it has grown worldwide with entire teams making it a point of duty to kneel while some others have been decidedly against it but UEFA believes those who wish to must be allowed in its standard zero tolerance stance against all forms of racism.
Their statement added: “We urge spectators to show respect to players and teams who take the knee,” making sure to stress the point against crowds who taunt those who kneel because, they strongly hold that everyone is allowed to stand up for equal rights.
As THEWILL reported, after the England national team were booed for taking the knee before their friendly games against Austria and Romania at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, Scotland’s head coach, Steve Clarke, made a vow to see his team join England’s players in kneeling before their fixture at the Euros.