Tokyo 2020: TeamGB women's footballers to take the knee during Olympics

The England Internationals are part of the TeamGB Olympic squad

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.

The squad, which includes Norfolk's Lauren Hemp and Milton Keynes' Leah Williamson, want to highlight the fight against racism.

The move follows last weekend's European Championship final which England lost to Italy on penalties. Three of the players who stood up to take the spot kicks, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, were subjected to a torrent of racist abuse after the defeat.

Abusive messages flooded the players' social media accounts, with widespread condemnation including from England manager Gareth Southgate, the Prime Minister, and the Duke of Cambridge.

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."

Arsenal star Williamson tweeted her support of the action:

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 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.