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Team GB: Women’s football team to take the knee at Tokyo 2020

Team GB players taking a knee
Scotland’s Kim Little, Wales’ Sophie Ingle and England’s Lucy Bronze take a knee during the 2020-21 season
Next fixture: Great Britain v Chile Date: 21 July Kick-off: 08:30 BST Venue: Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two from 08:15 BST. Live text coverage on the BBC Sport website. Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live from 08:30 BST.

Great Britain’s women’s football squad will take the knee before their games at the Tokyo Olympic Games this month.

Earlier this month, it was announced rules around athletes protesting at Tokyo 2020 had been relaxed by the International Olympic Committee.

Team GB head coach Hege Riise said the squad “were all united” in their decision to make the gesture.

“We are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.”

Players in the women’s and men’s game have been taking the knee to highlight racial injustice.

Riise added: “We were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.

“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society.”

British Olympic Association’s Andy Anson, added: “By taking the knee our women’s football side are embodying the values of Team GB.”

Why do players take the knee and what are the new Olympic rules?

Under the new IOC rules, athletes will be able to “express their views” before and after competing, as well as when speaking to the media, but cannot do so during events, opening and closing ceremonies, victory ceremonies – on the podium – and at the Olympic Village.

Any protest is not allowed to be “disruptive”, including unfurling a flag or banner during “the introduction of another athlete or team”.

And any gesture cannot be “targeted, directly or indirectly, against people, countries, organisations and/or their dignity”.

The new guidelines followed consultation with thousands of athletes around the world.

American footballer Colin Kaepernick took the knee during the national anthem before a match in 2016 and it has since become a prominent symbol in sport and during anti-racism protests.

Following the murder of George Floyd last year, players and officials in the Premier League and EFL took the knee on the restart of the 2019-20 season in June 2020 to highlight racial inequality and discrimination.

The Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship football followed suit, alongside national teams.

Last month, England men’s international Tyrone Mings said the team wanted to “educate and inform” in response to criticism from Home Secretary Priti Patel for taking the knee.

She had previously described taking the knee as “gesture politics”.

The England players were booed by some fans for making the gesture prior to their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his players decided to continue during Euro 2020 and said they felt “more determined than ever”.

England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted on social media after missing penalties in a shootout defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Three captains named

Team GB squad arriving in Tokyo
The Team GB squad arrived in Tokyo last week

The FA also confirmed Scotland’s Kim Little, Wales’ Sophie Ingle and England’s Steph Houghton have all been named as captains of the Team GB squad.

Each player will wear the armband on rotation throughout the tournament.

Scotland vice-captain Little and England skipper Houghton are also captains at their clubs Arsenal and Manchester City respectively, while Ingle, who plays for Chelsea, wears the armband for Wales.

Team GB’s first group game is against Chile on 21 July in Sapporo.

The squad flew out to Japan to begin preparations at a training camp in Yokohama last week.

Midfielder Little wore the armband during a behind-closed-doors friendly against New Zealand on Wednesday, which Team GB are believed to have won 3-0external-link.

Team GB will also face Japan and Canada in Group E. The top two teams will advance to the quarter-finals, as well as the best third-place finishers.

Team GB fixtures graphicSourced From BBC

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