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ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta was proud of his players for their support of the Black Lives Matter campaign ahead of their friendly with Brentford on Wednesday.
The Gunners wore t-shirts with a variety of messages on them, such as “I can’t breathe,” “My skin is not a crime” and “I’m not black but I stand with you,” in support of the protests going on around the world.
They also took a knee before kick-off, a symbolic way to show support, popularised by American football player Colin Kaepernick, which is also being reviewed by Olympic organisers.
The Spaniard said the idea had come from the players.
Arteta said on Sky Sports’ Football Show: “The thing that I like most is that it came from them.
“I got a phone call from the captain asking to do that, I spoke with the club straight away and we were very clear that we wanted to support their intentions, everyone collaborated, we created the shirt.
“It was a really strong message and it is more powerful because it comes from them. They think they have to support these types of causes.”
Arsenal’s support came after West Indies cricket captain Jason Holder said his team would consider taking the knee during next month’s Test series against England.
The International Olympic Committee plans to consult with athletes about whether the gesture – previously banned from podiums – should be approved when the delayed games go ahead next year in Tokyo.
The West Indies have a more immediate choice to make, with their first Test against England taking place at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl from July 8, and Holder plans to canvass his team-mates for a collective decision.
“What has happened recently has impacted the world and the response from people around the world has been tremendous,” he said.
“You must acknowledge it and protesting or standing up for what you believe is seen as noble and courageous and something I myself would never sit and disapprove of.
“It [taking a knee] will definitely – probably – be discussed among us and we’ll decide how we’ll go forward as a team with it. I just want to make sure whatever we do, if we do anything, that it is done the right way.”
In the golfing world, the PGA Tour is back this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, with players observing a moment’s silence at 8.46am – honouring George Floyd.
World No 1 Rory McIlory is one of several big names to support the move and the wider issues involved.
“Not using that tee time is a wonderful gesture,” he said.
“My hero growing up was Tiger Woods. Tiger doesn’t look the same as me, has had a very different upbringing to the one that I have had. But he was my hero growing up and it didn’t matter what colour his skin was, what his beliefs were.
“A great word that I’ve sort of been thinking of over the last couple of weeks is ‘tolerance’. I think everyone can just be a little more tolerant, and a little more educated and not as ignorant.”
UK Athletics chief executive Joanna Coates has laid out an action plan to address racism in the sport.
The governing body will host roundtable and discussion forums to allow athletes to raise issues as well as appointing a “Race Champion” within the organisation to lead on race and ethnicity.
Coates said: “As well as these steps I have already committed, through these recent weeks of devising the new strategy for the sport, that the various expert panels and oversight committees will be representative of the diversity in athletics.
“The purpose of highlighting these activities so far is not so we can pat ourselves on the back, but to ensure we are transparent on the standards we have committed to so far.
“And yet, I will concede – this is not enough and there is so much more to do. I have given my personal commitment that we will continue to drive change in this area.”
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