On the world stage, India took the knee. After they were asked to bat after Pakistan won the toss, the Indian players did it to lend support to the Black Lives Matter movement. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul took the knee inside the playing area, while the other players did it outside the boundary rope, near the dug-out.
Before the first ball was bowled, Rohit had a chat with Pakistan captain Babar Azam followed by the gesture to support the movement against racism and any sort of discrimination. Pakistan players had hands on heart, as the two Asian giants ensured that on a grand stage, their voices were heard.
Was this a one-off gesture or will India continue to take the knee going ahead? “We have done it for now. Will see in the future,” a team source told The Indian Express. The idea was to send out India’s anti-racism stance. England and West Indies also took the knee on Saturday, before their Super 12 opener.
The Indian players take the knee, while the Pakistani players have the hand on their heart
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The practice of taking the knee has become widespread in sport, mostly football, since 2020 after the death of George Floyd in the United States. The English Premier League led the way and also the England football team. The gesture, though, originally came from American footballer Colin Kaepernick taking the knee during the US national anthem ahead of an NFL game in 2016.
Before the Euros this year, England manager Gareth Southgate had confirmed that his players would take the knee in every game. Harry Kane and company walked the talk, in some cases, ignoring boos from a section of fans.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, had initially banned the participants at this year’s Olympics from taking the knee, citing Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter that prohibits any kind of ‘demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda’. Later, the ban was lifted and the Great Britain women’s football team took the knee before every game.
The England men’s football team performing the gesture during the Euros had invited criticism from certain politicians. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel called it “gesture politics” but was called out by England centre-half Tyrone Mings, while Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho suffered racist abuse following England’s defeat in the final.
“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,” Mings had tweeted, replying to a post from Patel.