Watford's players to no longer take the knee before kick-off

Watford’s players to no longer take the knee before kick-off due to ‘confusion over its continued relevance’ and there being a ‘better understanding’ of other options

  • Hornets players will now remain shoulder-to-shoulder in their own half instead
  • This followed discussions between the player’s leadership and club ambassador 

Watford have announced its players will no longer be taking the knee before kick-off due to ‘confusion over its continued relevance’. 

The North London side released a statement explaining how the player’s leadership team came to the conclusion that there are better ways to show support for anti-discriminatory activities.

Hornets players will now instead remain ‘shoulder-to-shoulder in a visible display of unity’ as their new response to an opponent taking the knee. 

Club Ambassador Luther Blissett OBE said: ‘Watford FC has a very long history as a club that does not tolerate discrimination and, as a trailblazer in this respect, I felt that we needed to show support in a way that anyone in the stadium can understand and get behind.

‘Fans literally can ‘stand with us’ in this respect! This is a decision the Former Players Club fully supports. 

Watford’s players will now no longer take the knee before kick-off due to ‘confusion over its continued relevance’

Former Watford player and club ambassador Luther Blissett OBE said ‘this is a decision the Former Players Club fully supports’

‘Many of us played through the worst times in terms of discrimination and it was good to be able to talk it all through with the players’ leadership team.

‘The history around taking the knee is actually quite complex and its origins are important to understand, particularly why some such as the Veteran community are not comfortable with kneeling as an anti-discrimination message.

‘I am confident that Watford fans will continue to support the many initiatives we undertake to ensure that all are welcome and respected in our football community.’

The North London side also revealed that nothing will take place when Watford’s opposition indicates they do not wish to take the knee as typically this is indicated 75 minutes before kick-off at the referee’s briefing. 

Club captain Daniel Bachmann added: ‘We want to make it clear that we’ll still get involved in matchday and other activities relating to the message about anti-discrimination.

‘It was, however, important for us to get away from the confusion that taking the knee generates amongst players and supporters, but also have something powerful that’s ours to do when required.’

Following the murder of George Floyd in the United States in May 2020, Aston Villa and Sheffield United’s players were the first to take the knee in the top flight a month later prompting widespread praise for its impact. 

Premier League clubs announced ahead of the 2021-22 season that they would continue to take the knee as a ‘symbol of our unity against all forms of racism’. 

Watford’s players celebrate after a goal against West Bromwich Albion at Vicarage Road on September 20

At the start of this season Premier League teams again agreed to stick with the anti-racism gesture for the upcoming 50 games. 

The Premier League captains said in August: ‘We are unified in our belief that any form of discrimination has no place within football, or wider society, and are committed to using our platform to help celebrate diversity and show our support in the fight against racism.

‘Therefore, we will continue to show solidarity by taking the knee at significant moments during the forthcoming season.

‘Diversity is central to the success of the game and we feel strongly that people should respect others, regardless of their ethnicity or background.’

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