Premier League drops Black Lives Matter badge from shirts for own campaign | Football | The Guardian

Premier League footballers are to continue their support for anti-racism on the pitch but will no longer be associated with Black Lives Matter.

When the 2020-21 season begins on Saturday, players will take the knee before kick-off and will carry the slogan No Room For Racism on their shirts but there will be no mention of the movement that has brought the subject of racial justice to the fore in the US and beyond after it caused controversy for the league earlier this year.

During the restart that followed the suspension of football owing to the coronavirus pandemic, players wore badges endorsing Black Lives Matter for all nine match days. A gesture of solidarity with protests in the US, the UK and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, it was a move universally approved by the players but also, unusually, supported by the Premier League.

Policies supported by the organisation of the same name, including the defunding of police forces, subsequently proved uncomfortable for the league. The chief executive, Richard Masters, was forced to justify the endorsement in front of a DCMS select committee and told MPs: “We’re drawing a clear distinction between a moral cause and a political movement.”

At that session Masters said the move had not sent a precedent but, after a meeting with the league’s club captains, players will now wear badges once more. The league says the initiative “will build on the momentum created last season”.

“We, our clubs, players and match officials have a long-standing commitment to tackling discrimination,” Masters said in a statement.

“Players rightly have a strong voice on this matter, which we saw last season. We have continued to talk and listen to players on this issue and will support them as well as continuing to emphasise the Premier League’s position against racism.”

No Room for Racism is a campaign run by the Premier League with the support of other English footballing bodies and the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out. Launched in 2019, its aim is to eliminate racial discrimination from the sport both in stadiums and online.

“Discrimination in any form, anywhere, is wholly unacceptable and No Room For Racism makes our zero-tolerance stance clear,” Masters said. “We will not stand still on this important issue and we will continue to work with our clubs, players and partners to address all prejudiced behaviour.”