(Reuters) – English Premier League players will pay tribute to worldwide anti-racism movements by wearing shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the back during the opening round of fixtures at the season’s restart.
The Premier League has approved for player surnames to be replaced on the back of their shirts with the slogan, while the BLM logo will be displayed on the front for the first 12 matches of the restarted season.
“We, the players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their colour or creed,” the players said in a statement.
“This symbol is a sign of unity from all players, all staff, all clubs, all match officials and the Premier League #blacklivesmatter #playerstogether.”
The tribute comes amid worldwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Several Premier League clubs in recent weeks have posed taking a knee, like former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who popularised the gesture as a way to protest racial issues.
The Premier League said it would support players taking a knee, and the BLM on shirts initiative.
“The League supports the players’ wish to have their names replaced by Black Lives Matter on the back of their shirts for the first 12 matches of the restarted 2019/20 season,” the Premier League said.
“A Black Lives Matter logo will also feature on shirts for the remainder of the season, along with a badge thanking the NHS for their work during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In addition, the League will support players who ‘take a knee’ before or during matches.”
Clubs will also respect one minute’s silence for those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic and kits will include a heart-shaped badge in honour of NHS and frontline staff during the crisis.
The Premier League will resume on June 17 after a three-month stoppage due to the outbreak, which has caused over 41,000 deaths in the United Kingdom.
Reporting by Julien Pretot and Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar