Premier League captains insist top-flight players remain fully committed to the battle for equality despite opting to cut the number of times they take the knee to seven.
As Sportsmail forecast on Tuesday, the pre-match gesture will no longer take place before every game this season.
Instead, players will take the knee during the opening round of fixtures starting with Crystal Palace against Arsenal on Friday, on Boxing Day, the finals of the FA Cup and League Cup, the last day of the season and weeks when the No Room For Racism campaign is active in October and November.
Premier League clubs have decided to reduce the number of times they take the knee
In a collective statement, the top-flight captains said: ‘We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism and in so doing we continue to show solidarity for a common cause.
‘We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice, and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.’
Club skippers met a week ago to discuss several of issues. While a number still supported taking the knee, there were opposing views from some who felt the gesture had run its course.
A compromise has now been found to ensure it remains part of the season but only ahead of certain matches. Having originally said they would not be taking the knee, Bournemouth players will now perform the anti-racism gesture on the days agreed.
While support for equality remains as strong as ever among top-flight footballers, there was some hesitation during last week’s talks to make a definitive decision on how to proceed.
Players will now take the knee during the opening match round, on Boxing Day, the FA Cup and EFL Cup finals, the final match round and weeks the No Room For Racism campaign is active
The act of taking the knee before every game was first introduced in 2020 during Project Restart as a show of solidarity following the brutal murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
The gesture has continued despite criticism that the act had political connotations.
Sources have indicated to Sportsmail over the summer that certain figures were keen for the gesture to be scrapped because it was proving too divisive.
In confirming the news, a statement read: ‘Ahead of the new season, Premier League club captains have reaffirmed their commitment to fighting racism and all forms of discrimination.
‘The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to take the knee, to amplify the message that racism has no place in football or society.
Players such as Wilfried Zaha (pictured above) had already decided to stop taking the knee
‘The Premier League supports the players’ decision and, alongside the clubs, will use these opportunities to elevate anti-racism messaging as part of the League’s No Room for Racism Action Plan.’
In addition, £238,000 will be donated to designated youth clubs on behalf of the captains after £119,000 was raised from the royalties of the ‘No Room For Racism’ sleeve badges sold on club shirts last season. The Premier League matched the figure.
All eyes will be on how the England team approach the matter, particularly at the World Cup. There remains a strong contingent of players in Gareth Southgate’s squad who believe taking a knee still sends a powerful message.
Early indications are that the players will take the knee in some form in Qatar but the players will discuss the matter in greater depth ahead of the games against Italy and Germany in September.
Southgate’s team are under growing pressure to take a stand against the human rights atrocities that have occurred in Qatar in the lead up to the tournament.
The gesture has been carried out by players since Project Restart during the pandemic in 2020