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Ivory Coast star Salomon Kalou takes a knee to support Anti-Racism protests

The fight against racism is an on going battle, especially according to many soccer players of colour. Many well-known players have used their fame to speak out against racism in the industry, and one such famous sportsman is Salomon Kalou of Ivory Coast.

Kalou created massive controversy when he and his Hertha Berlin teammates supported the ‘Take A Knee’ movement by kneeling before a match earlier in October to protest against people who ‘think there is a colour’, and those who believe in white supremacy.

The player later stated to ESPN FC that ‘racism is like terrorism’, explaining his choice to support the movement that began at a football match in the USA last year.

Hertha Berlin made the gesture before the Bundesliga match on October 14, which was held at home against Schlake, in order to support the movement started by the actions of San Francisco 49-ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The team wanted to stake a stand against widespread discrimination, and thought the ‘Take A Knee’ gesture to be fitting for the purpose.

This came as the first time an entire European soccer team joined in on the protests, with both staff and players kneeling in the Olympiastadion – a stadium built for the 1936 Olympic Games under Germany’s oppressive Nazi regime.

How The Take A Knee Movement Began

The Take a Knee movement has been growing rapidly in the US too, as National Football League footballers protest against widespread racism and police brutality. President Donald Trump and many others have criticised the players’ actions during the national anthem at the start of games, while activists and liberals have joined in to create the massive protest movement that is still spreading today.

The movement began in August 2016, when Colin Kaepernick sparked widespread NFL protests by kneeling during the anthem to show his opposition against African American-targeted police brutality. In that year alone, over 1,093 people were killed by police in the USA, with African Americans compromising almost a quarter of this number despite only making up 12% of the national population.

Soccer Associations Continue To Combat Racism

Understandably, the Take a Knee campaign is all over the news at present, but there are many additional efforts from global soccer authorities to combat racism in the sport. FIFA is particularly active in this regard, holding constant events and campaigns that aim to nix discrimination and provide equal opportunities for players of all nationalities and races.

The association’s actions against racism began long ago, with it strongly condemning South Africa’s apartheid movement by expelling the country in 1961. In 2002, FIFA began to hold world days against racism in discrimination, with celebrities being quick to endorse the movement.In 2004, it also approved a Code of Ethics designed to nix discrimination with regard to race, ethnicity, politics, culture, religion, gender or language.

In 2006, FIFA launched its first ‘Say No to Racism’ campaign, displaying prominent banners during pre-match formalities at that year’s FIFA World Cup. This would continue into 2010 and beyond, with the association also holding Anti-Discrimination days in South Africa, and starting to publish interviews on racism and discrimination in soccer to celebrate its tenth anniversary.

The European football body UEFA has also campaigned heavily to eliminate racism over the past two decades, teaming up with the FARE Network (Football Against Racism in Europe) to achieve this goal. UEFA continues to contribute significant sums of money to the FARE organisation, and highlights the fight against racism each year at match day three in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

The message from these prominent sporting bodies is clear: racism has no place in the soccer world of today. And with more players than ever before taking a stand against discrimination in the sport and as a whole, players and fans may one day look forward to racism-free soccer matches and opportunities for all.

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