Taking the knee
Sir, – Over a year after George Floyd’s killing, some football teams are still taking the knee before matches. What is remarkable is the total lack of self-awareness of the teams involved (Republic of Ireland included) as to how annoying this is to many football fans. It is the ultimate in virtue signalling and is an American import that has no place in European sport. Contrast the situation when Arsenal’s Mesut Özil tried to highlight the situation of the Uighurs and the club swiftly disassociated itself from his comments. The people booing players know a bandwagon when they see it. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The practice of “taking the knee”, as adopted by the Irish soccer team, continues to be controversial. Uefa has already in place a protocol called “Respect”, which it promotes across many platforms, and which is signified on the pitch by the wearing of the logo on the players’ jerseys. This was the statement adopted by the host team Hungary and no further gesture other than the Uefa one was necessary.
Arbitrary pitch displays, as decided on by football players, that intrude into what are properly socio-political affairs are best left outside the stadium. Players themselves may feel obliged into making such displays at the risk of adverse comment from a strong social-media lobby. In Ireland we have had controversies about the wearing of poppies and Easter lilies on jerseys, and the Fifa/Uefa line against the practice was properly adhered to in those cases. Teams that go outside governing body protocols in making pitch gestures are unwittingly placing themselves in the sphere of influence of many non-sport lobbies. However worthy these campaigns may be to some, I suggest it is better that they be promoted elsewhere and allow footballers to play football. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It was reported in The Irish Times that Adam Idah gave an opinion, on the Claire Byrne show, that soccer is trying to stop racism (Sport, June 9th). Is it really? All of the soccer teams in Europe are currently competing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. This competition is being hosted by Qatar, a country for whom the United Nations has “serious concerns of structural racial discrimination against non-nationals”. These “non nationals” are from sub-Saharan Africa as well as several Asian countries. These immigrant workers continue to suffer from massive racial abuse. Thousands of these workers are reported to have died since 2010, while constructing glamorous stadiums for this event. “Taking the knee” before a game is a hollow gesture. The player’s stance against racism would be far more effective and meaningful if they refused to participate in the next World Cup, as long as it’s being played in a country which facilitates such racial discrimination. – Yours, etc,