Aston Villa and Sheffield United players kneel at kickoff

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A “Black Lives Matter” badge will also appear on all game jerseys for the rest of the season.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United players kneeled in support of the Black Lives Matter immediately after the whistle to kick off the first Premier League game of the season again.

Referee Michael Oliver whistled before taking a knee on the field.

Villa players and staff wore black shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” during the warm-up.

A black banner was also displayed at Villa Park during the match.

A joint statement released by the two clubs shortly after kick-off said they were “proud to show solidarity” with the actions of their players and coaching staff by “expressing our collective support for the Black Lives movement. Matter ”.

The two clubs also said they hoped the act of “taking a knee” would send a strong message of unity and amplify the many messages of support from Premier League players and the extended football family. ”

Colin Kaepernick began using the action symbolically during the 2016 NFL pre-game national anthem to protest police violence against African Americans in the United States.

The Premier League has announced its support for the racial equality movement after the death of George Floyd in the United States, which has sparked worldwide protests.

Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died while a white policeman held one knee by the neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

The names of the players will be replaced on the back of their shirts by the words “Black Lives Matter” in all of the first 12 games of the restarted Premier League season.

A “Black Lives Matter” badge will also appear on all game jerseys for the rest of the season.

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina (left), defender Tyrone Mings (center) and midfielder Jack Grealish (right) prepare for Aston Villa

“It touched my heart”

Former Crystal Palace striker Clinton Morrison said the moment the players knelt in the restart restart game was “special.”

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was special, it touched my heart. I did not expect this. You can see that it was planned. It was wonderful. We thank the two groups of players and the staff. ”

Former Arsenal and England forward Ian Wright said that Premier League players wearing “Black Lives Matter” on their shirts showed that the league wanted to be on the right side of history.

“What the Premier League has done is empower them,” said Wright, who was the victim of racist abuse on social media last month.

Research by UK Sport and Sport England last year found that Blacks, Asians and Ethnic Minorities (BAME) made up only 5.2% of the board members of the 130 sports organizations they fund , including the Football Association.

According to the 2011 census, around 13% of the population of England and Wales is from the BAME group.

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