Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on June 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Players kneeled in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and victims of the coronavirus were remembered as the Premier League made a sombre return on Wednesday from a 100-day shutdown that deprived England of its national sport.

Back on the touchline at Manchester City was Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, whose positive COVID-19 test led to English soccer’s longest suspension since the Second World War.

Britain is still trying to contain one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the coronavirus while also convulsed by a reckoning over racial injustice that roused the campaigning passion and anger of Premier League players following the death of George Floyd.

Story continues below advertisement

The text “Black Lives Matter” replaced player names on jerseys during Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal and Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw with Sheffield United. The symbolic move that will continue in this weekend’s round of games is being accompanied by demands from players for substantive changes to end discrimination and promote diversity.

After the opening whistle blew in the first game at Villa Park, every player took a knee in a tribute to Floyd, who was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis last month. In Manchester, the same gesture took place just before kickoff in a near-empty stadium.

“Obviously it is going to be an odd experience without fans,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. “The Premier League won’t be back with a capital ‘B’ until fans are back.”

Supporters won’t be allowed into stadiums for the coming weeks at least.

“There’s no doubt that this is a hugely symbolic moment,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said about the restart at the government’s daily briefing an hour before the games, “an important step forward in our careful journey back towards normality.”

The resumption of the Premier League comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government faces criticism for not ordering a nationwide lockdown until March 23 and for easing restrictions in England too soon given still-high levels of new cases and deaths. The United Kingdom as a whole has recorded more than 42,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

The virus had been rapidly spreading from Italy and Spain to the rest of Europe in March but it took a decision by the Premier League itself – after Arteta’s positive test – to halt the competition. The move, which came after the government had said sports competitions could go on, has been credited with saving lives by keeping hundreds of thousands of fans from being infected in, or around, stadiums.

Story continues below advertisement

As well as a Black Lives Matter logo, Premier League jerseys for the rest of the season will feature a badge thanking Britain’s National Health Service.

The latest example of the league’s clout came this weekend when 22-year-old star Marcus Rashford publicly demanded that Johnson’s government reverse its decision to halt school lunch vouchers for poor students over the summer holidays. The Manchester United and England player cited his own childhood experience of relying on free school lunches and food banks.

His campaign to protect hungry children drew wide support, prompting Johnson to make an abrupt policy U-turn on Monday and continue the vouchers. Johnson then called Rashford to thank him.

After the announcement Rashford tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

During the lockdown and with the resumption of the season in doubt, the league had feared it could lose more than US$1-billion for failing to meet broadcasting commitments.

Of the five biggest soccer countries in Europe, England is the fourth to get back on the field. Germany was first last month, while Spain and Italy resumed this month. France cancelled the remainder of its season while the virus was still peaking – as did England’s neighbour, Scotland.

Story continues below advertisement

The Premier League plans to finish the remaining 92 games of its season by July 26. There are also contingency plans for what to do if a second wave of infections that causes another shutdown but not about how to resolve an incomplete season.

Once all the national leagues are done, the country’s beloved FA Cup final will be held on Aug. 1. The Champions League is expected to finish its season in an abbreviated tournament-style finish in Lisbon in mid-August.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies