Bernd Leno has added his call to the growing number of voices who want to see Premier League players ‘take a knee’ in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

DENVER, CO - JUNE 06: Denver Broncos players join people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 6, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. This is the 12th day of protests since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JUNE 06: Denver Broncos players join people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 6, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. This is the 12th day of protests since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Football has always tried to stay out of ‘politics’ but the problem with that is what a lot of privileged people call ‘politics’ is actually real people’s lives. And those people are dying and being brutalised around the globe.

After the murder of George Floyd in America by US police, protests have sprung up around the world as a tipping point seems to have been reached, finally, and more white people see the violence and fear black people have to face as a routine part of their lives.

“We as players have so many people looking up to us as idols. We have to show, as Arsenal, that we support you,” the 28-year-old told Sky Sports.

“It is sad in 2020 we are still discussing these things, but this is the reality and we have to keep pushing on this. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, we have to respect each other and everybody should have the same chances in life.”

The Premier League will support players kneeling before (and during) matches while ‘Black Lives Matter’ will adorn the back of players shirts instead of their own names for the first 12 matches of the restarted campaign.

DARMSTADT, GERMANY - JUNE 14: Darmstadt players holds a 'Black Lives Matter' banner prior to the the Second Bundesliga match between SV Darmstadt 98 and Hannover 96 at Merck-Stadion am Boellenfalltor on June 14, 2020 in Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images)
DARMSTADT, GERMANY – JUNE 14: Darmstadt players holds a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner prior to the the Second Bundesliga match between SV Darmstadt 98 and Hannover 96 at Merck-Stadion am Boellenfalltor on June 14, 2020 in Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo by Pool/Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images)

“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 in a statement on Friday.

“In addition, the League will support players who ‘take a knee’ before or during matches.”

This is, of course, all well and good. It’s easy to take a knee when you’re white and supported, knowing you can drive home without fear. It’s easy to turn up to protests when you’ve been locked in your house for three months and the sun is shining outside.

How many white people will still be there fighting the legal battles that don’t make the news headlines and supporting the movement when it’s no longer fashionable and might have an actual impact on their lives is the important question. Hopefully more than have hung around before.

Without that, no amount of kneeling or tshirts will change a thing. Being a true ally is about so much more than token protests.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.