England captain Harry Kane has explained why Premier League footballers feel the need to continue to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the striker responding to those who believe it is an empty gesture.
Kane has joined every Premier League footballer in taking a knee before each game since football returned in June, with the pre-match anti-racism demonstration continuing into the 2020/21 season.
The Tottenham Hotspur forward was also on the pitch when England teammates were racially abused during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria in October 2019, and although he admits he has never been subjected to racial discrimination before, he understands the need to show support for friends, teammates and fellow players.
As a result, the England skipper has offered an explanation to those who have asked how long will Premier League players continue to take a knee for, with Kane insisting that there remains a need to show a collective movement against racism as long as it exists on a global scale.
“I think we are a huge platform to share our voices across the world, to be honest,” Kane told Nihal Arthanayake on BBC Radio 5 Live. “Obviously we have done a lot with Black Lives Matter and taking the knee before games. I hear people talking about taking the knee and whether we should still be doing it, and for me I think we should.
“What people don’t realise sometimes is we are watched by millions of people around the world, and of course for the person who watches the Premier League every week, they see the same thing every week.
“But I think if you look around the world, you see children watching the game for the first time, seeing us all take a knee and asking their parents why we take the knee … I think it’s a great chance for people to explain why and get their point across. I think education is the biggest thing we can do - adults can teach generations what it means, and what it means to be together and help each other, no matter what your race.”
Kane also hit back at those who claim that footballers should “stick to football”, a common response to those such as Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling who have both attempted to use their positions to speak out and impact change in regards to child poverty and race perception.
I don’t like it when people say we should just play football and stick to kicking a ball.. because we are a huge platform. We come across to millions around the world. Our voices should be heard.”
Recent numbers revealed there were 319 incidents of alleged hate crimes at football matches in 2019.20, the majority of which were instances of race-related allegations.
But the decision for players from all clubs across the top flight to take a knee followed the death of African-American George Floyd earlier this year while in police custody, which triggered a global backlash against racial injustice and inequality along with police brutality in the United States.
The Premier League became part of that after talks between the individual captains from each club, and Kane revealed how the black players among the group led the discussion on the subject of taking a knee as they felt it helped to show a collective response that helped support those who have been a victim of racism.
“That’s a huge part of it and that’s the stage we are at now,” Kane added. “With BLM it was a conversation we had in the captains’ WhatsApp group across the league. Troy Deeney and Wes Morgan were talking to the boys about Black Lives Matter, and everyone said the same thing.
“It’s the right thing. We want to be part of it, we want to help as much as possible, and I think that makes a huge impact across the league and the world, everyone watching, that we are all united together. A lot of white players in league haven’t been racially abused but we have all been there or seen teammates and friends racially abused so we want to help make a change and the only way to do that is to stick together and to voice your opinion and try and help make that change.
“The biggest thing for me as England captain and as a leader in playing for Spurs, living in such a diverse country and diverse area, is just to be there and be that support for people.”