Team GB football squad to take the knee at Olympics

Caroline Weir and Kim Little will join the rest of the Team GB squad in taking the knee before games.

Team GB: Weir and Little will play at the Olympic Games. Ross Parker via SNS Group / Ross MacDonald via SNS Group
Team GB: Weir and Little will play at the Olympic Games.

The Team GB football squad will take the knee before matches at the Tokyo Olympics.

The decision follows clarification from the International Olympic Committee that gestures such as this were permitted on the field of play prior to the start of competition, a statement on englandfootball.com said.

Players, including Scotland’s Caroline Weir and Kim Little, are united in the decision to continue the anti-racism protest before all three of their group games against Japan, Canada and Chile.

Head coach Hege Riise said: “The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now and we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.”

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Players from Britain and abroad, in both the women’s and men’s game, have chosen to take the knee since football’s resumption amid the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to bring attention to racial injustice.

Andy Anson, British Olympic Association CEO, said: “As one of the most diverse and inclusive sports teams in the UK, Team GB will always support any athlete from any sport and their right to promote equality and a more just society, where it is carried out peacefully, respectfully and without disruption.

“By taking the knee our women’s football side are embodying the values of Team GB.”

Rules around protesting were relaxed earlier this month by the IOC, with athletes able to “express their views” before and after competing, as long as gestures are not “disruptive” and done with the respect of all competitors.

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Riise added: “We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society and we are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.

“We will do so 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.”

The England men’s team experienced boos from some fans before Euro 2020 when they took the knee before two warm-up games at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, and again at Wembley in their tournament opener against Croatia.

Scotland joined England in taking the knee before their 0-0 draw at Wembley but decided to ‘take a stand’ against racism instead in their other two games.

Riise, meanwhile, has named Steph Houghton and Sophie Ingle, captains of England and Wales respectively, and Scotland’s vice-skipper Little, as the three Team GB captains for the Tokyo Games.

The trio will captain games on rotation through the tournament.

Riise said: “We are fortunate to have so many experienced and talented players in our squad and we think of ourselves as a ‘leaderful’ team, where every individual brings their own leadership strengths to the group.

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“However Steph, Sophie and Kim will lead the way on the pitch. This is a very close group on and off the pitch and I have been so impressed how they have all come together.”


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