Team GB’s campaign to take the knee before matches at the Olympics has been reciprocated by hosts Japan on the pitch before the pair met in a women’s football match – with some fans switching off and others hailing the move.
Several members of the squad had spoken out about the importance of making the gesture before games in Tokyo, and the Japan players showed their approval by joining in and kneeling shortly before kick-off, while Arsenal forward Nikita Parris reportedly held up a fist.
The gesture has continued to be a controversial feature of high-profile football matches this summer, with a political row breaking out in England after the men’s senior team vowed to continue taking a knee despite boos being heard when they performed it at games ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign.
Team GB and Japan take the knee pic.twitter.com/igmDfK5b8A
— Hedonist (@The_Hedonist_6) July 24, 2021
GBR vs Japan footballAll take the kneeParris Nikita also does the black power fistButs it’s nothing to do with the BLM who’s symbol is the fist honest
— 🐝Ferdy’s tactical foul🐝 (@Gojairu) July 24, 2021
Critics of the symbolism, which its supporters say opposes racism, claim it is divisive, lacking meaning and a validation of what they believe are the dubious motives of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
“Was looking forward to watching the women’s football match between GB and Japan,” responded one unimpressed watcher, looking on as the game began in front of a global TV audience on Saturday.
England vs Japan just kicked off! Great game so far. Both teams took the knee. @SteveHyndside Parents – if you want good role models for your girls (and boys actually), stick ’em in front of BBC 1 #olympics#footballpic.twitter.com/BIE16mt7tK
— Julia 📚🖊️💚 (@Julia_GreenPubs) July 24, 2021
Was looking forward to watching the women’s football match between GB & Japan. As soon as they got on their knees I turned it off. My loss but I will do this every time. Have a nice day Twitterers.
— John B. (@A12TCT) July 24, 2021
“As soon as they got on their knees, I turned it off. My loss, but I will do this every time.”
One viewer suggested that UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who questioned the taking of the knee before Euro 2020, and prime minister Boris Johnson would be “fuming” at the development.
Great to see Team GB taking a knee at #Tokyo2020 and the Japan team joining them. Being against racism is actually really easy to understand.
— Jeegar Kakkad (@jeegarkakkad) July 24, 2021
— Remy Cee 💙 (@RemyCee) July 24, 2021
Patel was publicly rebuked by England and Premier League defender Tyrone Mings earlier this month, accusing her of “stoking the fire” of racist abuse by failing to endorse kneeling.
The match referee also took the knee. “Parents: if you want good role models for your girls – and boys, actually – stick them in front of [this game],” applauded one fan.
The fact that both Chile and Japan have took the knee as well 👏
— Ellie Yates (@EllieY8s) July 24, 2021
Awesome Women’s Team GB campaigned to take the knee and won.Japan reciprocated. #Tokyo2020
— Tricky ✊🏾✊🏻✊#FBPE (@Tricky_1) July 24, 2021
Opponents Chile also took the knee in Team GB’s opening match of the Olympics, when Manchester City striker Ellen White scored both goals in a 2-0 win.
The women’s side were the first team to represent Team GB at the Games, and captain Steph Houghton reiterated her support for the decision after their victory.
Women’s Team GB Football team kick-off against Japan. Lovely to see both teams taking the knee.
— PB’s helping graduates #ShoutOuttoHelpOut (@PlanBstudio) July 24, 2021
Nice to see Japan joining in the taking of the knee – even the bench!
— Daisy Wildsmith ⚽️🇬🇧 (@daisy_wildsmith) July 24, 2021
“Taking the knee was something we spoke about as a group,” she explained. “We feel so strongly and we want to show we’re united.
“We want to fight all forms of discrimination and, as a group of women, we wanted to kneel against it.” (RT)
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