2:17 PM ET
Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC
The Premier League has sanctioned the wearing of the Black Lives Matter logo on the back of shirts in place of individual players’ names and also voiced its support to players who want to take a knee following the resumption of fixtures next week.
England‘s top flight is due to restart on June 17, with Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United and Manchester City vs. Arsenal scheduled to be the first Premier League games since the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the competition on March 13.
Footballers across Europe have lent their voice in the campaign to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement outside of the United States, as it has gained worldwide attention in the wake of the death of American citizen George Floyd in police custody last month. Captains from all 20 clubs have been in talks in an effort to agree on a collective recognition of this campaign.
ESPN reported this week that the #PlayersTogether group, led by Watford‘s Troy Deeney, Everton‘s Seamus Coleman and Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, had called on the Premier League to allow player names to be replaced by Black Lives Matter for the opening round of fixtures next week.
And with players across Europe having already paid tribute to Floyd and Black Lives Matter with T-shirt messages and many players taking a knee, the Premier League have agreed to the shirt-name initiative and made it clear that they back any footballers who choose to take a knee.
In a statement released on Friday, the Premier League said: “The Premier League stands alongside players, clubs, the FA, EFL, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and all those who oppose discrimination in any form.
“The League supports the players’ wish to have their names replaced by Black Lives Matter on the back of their shirts for the first 12 matches of the restarted 2019/20 season. A Black Lives Matter logo will also feature on shirts for the remainder of the season, along with a badge thanking the NHS (National Health Service) for their work during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In addition, the League will support players who ‘take a knee’ before or during matches.”
The #PlayersTogether group, which was formed in April by the group of Premier League captains, also issued a statement, voicing their determination to stand for equality and inclusion.
“We, the Players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for All, regardless of their colour or creed,” #PlayersTogether said.
“This symbol is a sign of unity from all Players, all Staff, all Clubs, all Match Officials and the Premier League #blacklivesmatter #playerstogether.'”