English Premier League players' names will be replaced by the phrase "Black Lives Matter" on the backs of their shirts when the season resumes on June 17. The phrase will remain for at least the first 12 games of the restarted season.
The Premier League is heading back to action after a three-month long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the lockdown, social unrest erupted in the United States, and later throughout many places around the world, after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Floyd, an African-American, passed away shortly after a white police officer was seen kneeling on his neck while he lay on the pavement during a botched arrest.
The death of a black man under police custody has led to mass protests and sometimes violent demonstrations in the U.S. People from around the world have also staged protests in various forms in the past weeks.
BBC Sport reports that all 20 Premier League clubs issued a joint statement regarding the issue. "We, the players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice," read the statement. It further stated that they stand for "a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their colour or creed."
Racism is a constant problem in football and governing body FIFA has launched campaigns to fight it. Sadly, the problem persists and players in the Premier League are taking this opportunity to stand in solidarity with Americans and others who support the movement.
Apart from replacing the players' names for the first 12 games, a "Black Lives Matter" badge will be featured on players' kits for the rest of the season. Not forgetting the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the BLM badge will be displayed alongside one that thanks NHS staff for their service and sacrifice during the global health crisis.
Several players have also been photographed "taking a knee" during training, taking a page from the anti-racism protest started by former NFL player Kolin Kaepernick back in 2016. The English Football Association has assured that it will use "common sense" in dealing with similar acts of protest once the season resumes.