Team GB Women Football team have confirmed that they will take the knee throughout this summer’s Olympics in Japan.
The decision comes after clarification provided by International Olympic Committee (IOC) in regards to Rule 50, which will now permit athletes to perform gestures on the pitch on condition that the gestures doesn’t cause disruption to individual events or causes offence for fellow competitors.
Speaking about the decision to continue the knee at Olympics after players previously took the knee across the last year at club and international levels, Head Coach Hege Riise confirmed that the team “were all united in our decision” to continue with the knee gesture in order to raise awareness of racism.
Riise also iterated that the gesture “is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society” and praised the IOC for their acknowledgement, amidst fierce debate back home in Great Britain between Football and UK Government in recent days.
This decision ultimately comes just days after the end of Euro 2020 in which England’s men were often booed for taking the knee despite objectification from various Conservative MPs, including Home Secretary – Priti Patel who pre-tournament branded the move as “gesture politics”.
Tensions consequently continued to increase with booing of national anthems of opposition and hooliganism prior to Sunday’s Final, which the Three Lions heartbreakingly lost on penalties to Italy as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed their spot-kicks.
A surge in racism unfortunately followed for the trio with their national teammate, Tyrone Mings consequently blasting Patel on Twitter for acting ‘disgusted’ at the racist abuse despite previously branding their stance as “gesture politics” pre tournament.
You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens. https://t.co/fdTKHsxTB2
— Tyrone Mings (@OfficialTM_3) July 12, 2021
Team GB squad have also clarified that they will take the knee “with the utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”
Lotte Wubben Moy and Fran Kirby have taken to social media to both praise this move by IOC, tweeting:
Couldn’t be more proud to play for this team, with these women. Strength in solidarity. ❤️ https://t.co/FxOvWtcTbG
— Lotte (@lottewubbenmoy) July 15, 2021
Proud to be a part of this group. ❤️ https://t.co/HhZZmFv4pz
— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) July 15, 2021
Team GB and England defender, Rachel Daly meanwhile tweeted of the need to ‘always stand together’ in order to fight for equality.
We will always stand together. Proud to be a part of such a special group, fighting for what is right. https://t.co/lpfEhS4Mod
— Rachel Daly (@RachelDaly3) July 15, 2021
Leah Williamson meanwhile iterated that ‘Hate won’t win!!’ in a Twitter post.
Proud of the team. Hate won’t win!!❤️ https://t.co/a80evZWDZc
— Leah Williamson (@leahcwilliamson) July 15, 2021
Riise also confirmed that Steph Houghton, Sophie Ingle and Kim Little will all be captains on rotation throughout the tournament, which kicks off against Chile on Wednesday 21 July at 8:30am BST UK Time.