Protests like Jadon Sancho’s ‘deserve applause not punishment’ – FIFA president
England international Sancho was booked after revealing a ‘Justice For George Floyd’ message in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes the Bundesliga players who protested about the death of George Floyd on the pitch last weekend “deserve an applause and not a punishment”.
England and Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho was booked after lifting his match shirt to reveal a ‘Justice For George Floyd’ message on a T-shirt underneath.
It has been reported the German Football Association (DFB) is considering disciplinary action against Sancho, as well as a couple of others, for a technical breach of the game’s laws.
Under Law 4 Section 5, players are not supposed to have slogans, statements or images on their kit or other equipment which could be deemed as political.
However, FIFA has urged governing bodies applying those laws to “use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events”.
Infantino said: “For the avoidance of doubt, in a FIFA competition the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches would deserve an applause and not a punishment.
“We all must say no to racism and any form of discrimination. We all must say no to violence. Any form of violence.”
The death of George Floyd, killed when a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis last week, has provoked demonstrations and condemnation in the United States and the wider world.
Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton wrote on his social channels on Tuesday afternoon: “This past week has been so dark. I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen.
“I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop.”
Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha, now based in Utah with Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, revealed he does not feel “100 per cent safe” in the US.
“I am always very wary of how I behave and how it could be viewed by people who have power,” Onuoha told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I have loved living in this country but there is (another) side of it.
“I never go out and feel 100 per cent safe.”
Footballers in England are unlikely to face any disciplinary action for taking the knee or other peaceful anti-discrimination protests if matches are able to resume this month.
The Football Association said in a statement: “The FA strongly condemns discrimination of any kind and has endeavoured to ensure that football in England is both diverse and inclusive in recent years.
“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the Laws of the Game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context.
“The power of football can break down barriers across communities and we remain deeply committed to removing all forms of discrimination from across the game we all love.”
It is understood that taking the knee in the manner in which Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram did would be unlikely to attract any sort of sanction.
But taking the knee in a way which could be viewed as provocative, perhaps doing so deliberately in front of someone who has previously been charged with or found guilty of a racism-related offence, may warrant further action.
Human rights group Amnesty International says it would “applaud” any athlete making a gesture of solidarity on this matter, including opting against competing in the US.
Its UK director Kate Allen said: “Numerous British sporting figures already speak out about racism and other human rights issues here in the UK, so it’s likely some will be moved to say something about the appalling scenes in the USA.
“As we saw with Liverpool football players this week, taking a knee is just one of the many things sporting figures can do if they want to express their anger at US police violence against people of colour.
“Whether UK athletes go to the United States – or anywhere else – will always be a matter for them, but from black power salutes in the sixties through to Colin Kaepernick’s famous gesture in 2016, sporting stars have shown they can make important human rights interventions.”
The chair of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, Sanjay Bhandari, said Premier League players taking the knee as a mark of protest would be “a powerful image”.
Chelsea and Newcastle players were among those who took the knee during training sessions on Tuesday, while a large number of sports stars and clubs joined the #blackouttuesday movement on social media.
Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin, a US international, posted a series of tweets on the situation in his home country.
“Every American needs to ask themselves, is there ‘liberty and justice for all’ and if their answer is yes, then they are part of the problem. In no way are we asking black lives to matter more than white lives,” he wrote.
“All we’re asking is we are seen as equal, as more than 3/5 of a man, as humans. My heart goes out in solidarity to George Floyd, his family, and all of the countless number of victims that have had their lives taken at the hands of meaningless police brutality.”
Floyd Mayweather’s promotion company confirmed the former five-division world boxing champion has offered to pay for George Floyd’s funeral expenses.
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