This weekend, during Matchday 29 of the 2019-20 Bundesliga, several players stood in solidarity, demanding Justice for George Floyd, an African-American man killed by police this week in Minneapolis.
This Sunday, during Borussia Dortmund‘s Bundesliga match against Paderborn, English midfielder Jadon Sancho celebrated a goal scored in their eventual 6-1 win by taking off his shirt and revealing a yellow t-shirt that carried the message “Justice for George Floyd”.
Later in the match, his teammate Achraf Hakimi, a Moroccan defender, displayed the same message.
Earlier in the day, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram also demonstrated against racial injustice by taking a knee after celebrating a 2-0 goal in their victory against Union Berlin. In the case of Thuram, a life-long advocate for speaking out against racism like his father, soccer legend Lilian, the act of kneeling can also be linked to Colin Kaepernick’s protest in the NFL, and with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, that has been instrumental in highlighting the racist violence committed by police in the last few years.
These two demonstrations were following in the footsteps of African-American player and Schalke 04 midfielder Winston McKennie, who was wearing a “Justice for George” armband in his squad’s match against Werder Bremen, which took place on Saturday.
These displays of solidarity by the Bundesliga players are a reminder that the visibility of professional athletes is important, and their platform can be influential and should be used to amplify messages of justice, accountability, and peace. Sports and politics will always intertwine, and it’s absolutely necessary to call out the abuses and atrocities going on in our world for this grim reality to change.
Racism is a shameful part of our history and our present, and we need to point out that, even in the higher echelons of European soccer, racist attacks and insults are still going on today. Countless African, Afro-Latino, and American and European athletes of African descent have been subject to name-calling, harassment, and even violence. It’s still a thing in our sport’s culture, and it needs to stop.
Many athletes in the U.S. have been vocal on the subject, but with the eyes of the soccer world on the Bundesliga – the only league in action right now – fans watching and thinking about ways to be an ally or help the movements saw four of soccer’s highest-profile names make sure to use their platform.