Liverpool squad take the knee in tribute to George Floyd

Chris Bascombe
Liverpool Football Club - Footballers united in fight against racism

Premier League players have delivered a powerful anti-racist message in support of those protesting against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford issued a statement on social media saying society is "more divided than ever" in the wake of the demonstrations in the United States.

And on Monday, many of Liverpool’s players simultaneously posted a photograph of an Anfield training session in which they all took the knee, an echo of the dignified silent protest of American footballer Colin Kaepernick in 2016 which many have since adopted as a symbolic gesture of support.

Floyd died last Monday after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck, and global sports stars have joined in the widespread condemnation.

 Rashford issued a passionate statement.

"I know you guys haven't heard from me in a few days. I've been trying to process what is going on in the world,” it read.

“At a time I've been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers. Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter.”

Rashford’s remarks followed an on-field demonstration by his England team-mate Jadon Sancho, who displayed a T-shirt in support of Floyd during Borussia Dortmund’s weekend victory in the Bundesliga, a 6-1 over Paderborn in which he scored a hat-trick.

Sancho was booked for lifting his jersey to reveal the message, saying later "we shouldn't fear speaking out for what's right".

 His T-shirt contained the message 'Justice for George Floyd'.

Liverpool players made the collective statement ahead of what is their first appearance at Anfield since the Covid-19 lockdown, Jurgen Klopp and his players returning to their stadium for a training session.  Many posted the image on their Twitter feeds.

Former England captain David Beckham also posted on Instagram.

“My heart goes out to George's family and I stand in solidarity with the black community and millions of others across the world who are outraged by these events. It’s heartbreaking to see that in 2020 this is still happening.”

 In Formula One, world champion Lewis Hamilton appeared to criticise those in his industry who had chosen not to speak out.

“I'm one of the only people of colour and yet I stand alone,” he said.

 That prompted a response, led by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

 “To be completely honest, I felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts on social media about the whole situation and this is why I haven't expressed myself earlier than today. And I was completely wrong,” he wrote on Twitter.

"I still struggle to find the words to describe the atrocity of some videos I've seen on the internet. Racism needs to be met with actions, not silence. Please be actively participating, engaging and encouraging others to spread awareness.

"It is our responsibility to speak out against injustice. Don't be silent. BlackLivesMatter."

Williams driver George Russell added on the same social media platform: “Now more than ever, we need peace and equality in this world.

“It's time we all stand together and kick racism out of our societies for good. Use your voice, spread awareness as far as you can. We're all responsible for ending the injustice.”