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England players take the knee… for three seconds, in World Cup opener against Iran

Human rights protests reactions Qatar World Cup 2022 live

Gareth Southgate’s England players took the knee, very briefly, in their opening game at the 2022 World Cup against Iran. Moments before kick-off, the Three Lions knelt for two, perhaps three seconds, making a statement about “inclusivity” as a demonstration against discrimination and racism. England returned to taking the knee in their World Cup opener after ditching the gesture in their two previous games – Nations League qualifying matches against Germany and Italy in September.

Strong statement by England over human rights

However, Southgate insisted that his players would be taking up their stance in Qatar, telling reporters, “We feel we should. We think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world, especially for young people, that is important.” In Iran, at least 348 protesters have been killed and 15,900 others arrested during anti-government demonstrations during the past three months. A 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran for not wearing the hijab and later died while in police custody.

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Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFPGRANT HALVERSONAFP

Taking the knee became a form of protest in sport in August 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt down on one knee during the national anthem before a pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. In football, Premier League players first took the knee in June 2020 in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Since then, many teams have stopped taking the knee with some commentators accusing Southgate’s England of virtue signalling.

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