Two weeks after the fact, football team Olympique de Marseilles finally explains why players did not take the knee in their Champions League match against Manchester City.
The Marseilles team was criticised when their players stood while Manchester City knelt before kick-off, the action that has become customary in the fight against racism.
Taking the knee was adopted widely amongst European football leagues when games resumed last season. Since the Black Lives Matter protests swept the U.K, players and officials in England’s Premier League and EFL games have regularly taken the knee to show their support for the movement. Manchester City, including player Raheem Sterling, took the knee before the game in France.
Marseilles is regarded as one of the most multi- cultural cities of Europe, with large populations of Muslims, Jews and Christians. In France, the fight against racism isn't new. The French Football League engages in numerous activities, and Marseilles is seen as the backbone in the fight thanks to its hiplayers, fans, and history.
Olympique de Marseille have explained their decision to not take the knee because French clubs “don't accept U.S. habit as easily as in the U.K.”.
Marseille insist they showed their support to the cause 'in their own way’, and not to snub the other team.
A spokesperson for the team stated, “It does not mean that people don't care or are reluctant, it is just another way to express our position. That's why our players decided to stand side by side, to show their support to the Manchester City players' action but ‘in our own way’”.
The football club has faced accusations of racism this season. Paris Saint-Germian forward Neymar accused Marseille's Alvaro Gonzalez of making ‘discriminatory remarks’ toward him. This led to the Paris Saint-German star receiving a red card for hitting his opponent on the back of the head during a feisty Ligue 1 match in September. The French Football League investigated the matter, concluding they did not have enough evidence, and Gonzalez faced no punishment.