The Great Britain’s women’s football team has decided to take a knee before their matches at the Tokyo Olympics to support the fight against racism and discrimination.
The decision was made after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relaxed its Rule 50. The rule had previously forbidden athletes from protesting at all times. But the rule now allows peaceful protest prior to competition, with sanctions still there for any protests made on the medal podium.
“The Team GB Women’s Football squad have confirmed their intention to take the knee on the field of play ahead of kick-off in their games at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Football tournament in Japan,” said a statement from the Great Britain Olympics team.
“The squad welcomed recent clarification provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in relation to Rule 50 which now permits athletes to make gestures on the field of play, provided they are done so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.”
Head coach Hege Riise said: “The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now and we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.”
Hege went on to say, “We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society and we are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression. We will do so with the utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”
The team will have three captains for the tournament in Steph Houghton, Sophie Ingle and Kim Little.
The trio has been chosen by Hege, with each player set to captain games on rotation throughout the tournament. Houghton is the current captain of England while Ingle wears the armband for Wales and Little is Scotland’s vice-captain.
Great Britain begin their Group E campaign against Chile in Sapporo on 21 July.