Britain’s women’s soccer team will take the knee before matches at the Tokyo Olympics to raise awareness about racism and all forms of discrimination, coach Hege Riise said on Thursday.
Team GB said the decision was made after clarification from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Rule 50, which allows athletes to make gestures on the field provided they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.
The act of taking the knee is a form of protest first made by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and followed by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society,” Norwegian Riise said in a statement.
“We are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.”
Black players in the England men’s team were subjected to a storm of online racist abuse after their defeat in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, drawing wide condemnation from the squad’s captain, manager, royalty, religious leaders and politicians.
The incident prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge social-media companies to do more to tackle online abuse that had “emerged from the dark spaces of the internet.”
Riise also said England’s Steph Houghton, Wales’ Sophie Ingle and Scotland’s Kim Little will share the captain’s armband game by game during the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Games.
Britain, who lost in the quarter-finals at the 2012 London Olympics but did not compete at the 2016 Rio Games, has been drawn in Group E. They face Chile in the opening game on July 21 followed by hosts Japan three days later and Canada on July 27.