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Fact Check-England footballers take the knee at Qatar World Cup to ‘peacefully protest against discrimination, injustice, and inequality’

England footballers have taken the knee at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to “protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality” and say the gesture is not “aligned to a political organisation or ideology”, as some people have claimed online.

Social media posts (here , here and here) sharing a screenshot of a tweet (here) claim that the England Men’s team took the knee before their opening match against Iran to specifically protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. The posts go further, suggesting ignorance among the team about ongoing protests in Iran where the United Nations estimates more than 300 people have died (here).

The tweet in the screenshot reads: “So the England team are going to take the knee before the Iranian team because of a policeman in Minnesota? I wonder if they’ve heard what policemen in Iran get up to? Almost certainly not. 1-0 for the Mullahs.”

While it is true that the England team initially knelt before games in 2020 in solidarity with protests over Floyd’s death, the gesture has since become one in broader support of equality (here).

A spokesperson for the English Football Association (FA) directed Reuters to a statement from June 2021, saying the principles remain the same for the 2022 tournament (here).

It reads: “As the team has reiterated many times, they will collectively take the knee ahead of their fixtures during the tournament. They are doing this as a mechanism of peacefully protesting against discrimination, injustice, and inequality. This is personally important to the players and the values the team collectively represents.

“This gesture of unity and fighting against inequality can be traced back as far as the 18th century. It is not new, and English football has made it very clear that it does not view this as being aligned to a political organisation or ideology. There can be no doubt as to why the players are taking the knee and what it represents in a footballing context.”

VERDICT

Misleading. England football players take the knee as a peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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