Soccer

‘We stand against racists’: Why German soccer club joined ‘take a knee’ movement

Players with German Bundesliga soccer club Hertha BSC take a knee before their home game against FC Schalke 04 on Saturday in Berlin.
Players with German Bundesliga soccer club Hertha BSC take a knee before their home game against FC Schalke 04 on Saturday in Berlin. The Associated Press

The “take a knee” movement has gone international.

The players of German Bundesliga soccer club Hertha BSC took a knee on the field with arms linked before their home game Saturday against FC Schalke 04.

“Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore!”

The club’s coaches and reserves knelt on the sideline before the 2-0 loss.

According to The Associated Press, the stadium announcer addressed the crowd of more than 50,000 before the match.

“Hertha Berlin stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason we are joining the protest of American athletes and setting a sign against discrimination,” the announcer said at Olympiastadion in Berlin, which was built for the 1936 Summer Olympics during a time when the Nazis ran Germany.

Kneeling as a form of silent protest began last year, when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did it while the national anthem was being played before a preseason game. He originally sat but changed it to a kneel after speaking with Nate Boyer, a former NFL player and retired U.S. Army Green Beret.

Saturday’s protest in Germany was not done during an anthem because it typically isn’t played before league games there. It was more about fighting racism, forward Salomon Kalou told AP.

“We stand against racists and that’s our way of sharing that. We are always going to fight against this kind of behavior, as a team and as a city,” said Kalou, an Ivory Coast international who also said the team reached a unanimous decision to kneel.

There’s no record of European soccer teams taking a knee before Saturday, but Hertha BSC members are not the first in the sport to join the protest. Megan Rapinoe, who plays for the U.S. Women’s National Team and the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League, first knelt on Sept. 4, 2016, before a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Red Stars.

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