Team GB: Women's football team to take the knee at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Members of the Team GB Women's Football Team depart London for the Tokyo Olympics
Members of the Team GB Women's Football Team depart London for the Tokyo Olympics Credit: PA

The British Women's Football team have confirmed they will take the knee on the field before each of their matches at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Head Coach Hege Riise said the team collectively made the decision to perform the anti-racism gesture, which is allowed under the rules as long as it is non-disruptive.

She 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."

“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 withthe 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,” she added.

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The decision follows numerous men's teams, including England and Wales, taking the knee at their games during Euro 2020.

Players and officials in the Premier League have been kneeling before kick off since last season following the death of George Floyd in the United States.Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate and the Football Association both urged supporters not to boo the anti-racism stance during the tournament.

A minority of England fans, however, defied the calls on several occasions, such as before England's clash with Croatia when an audible round of jeers from some of the expected 22,500 crowd could be heard. 

Last month, England men's international Tyrone Mings said the team wanted to "educate and inform" in response to criticism from Home Secretary Priti Patel for taking the knee.

The issue of taking the knee was again thrust into the spotlight when Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were targeted with racist abuse on social media after England's heartbreaking 3-2 penalty defeat to Italy on Sunday.

Wanting to raise awareness of racial injustice, England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton, who will play for Team GB in Tokyo and has been named as one of three joint captains, said the team had "a lot of conversations" about performing the gesture.

She told Sky Sports: "We've been taking the knee in our club matches in the WSL and previous international matches, and we knew as a squad this was something that we wanted to talk about first and foremost - it's not just a quick decision, we've had lots of conversations.

"The women's Team GB football team will play their opening game of the Tokyo Olympics against Chile on July 21. This fixture is followed by matches against hosts Japan three days later and then Canada on July 27.