Premier League returns with players kneeling in tribute to George Floyd, Black Lives Matter

It’s been 100 days since the Premier League last staged a game.

A lot in the world has changed since then.

Premier League play resumed on Wednesday with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United. The two teams took the field in front of empty stands at Birmingham, England’s Villa Park out of caution amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Players take a knee

Before play started, players acknowledged the reckoning on race relations that’s taken the United States and the world by storm. Players from both sides took a knee and a moment of silence after the first whistle in a tribute to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

They did so while wearing “Black Lives Matter” inscriptions on the back of their jerseys.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie after officials missed a goal scored by Sheffield United.

A sport plagued by racism acknowledged its return on Wednesday with a tribute to George Floyd. (Paul Ellis/Pool via AP)
A sport plagued by racism acknowledged its return on Wednesday with a tribute to George Floyd. (Paul Ellis/Pool via AP)

Racism’s impact on soccer

While Floyd’s death took place across the Atlantic Ocean, European soccer and the Premier League are no strangers to racism, with stories of racial abuse from fans plaguing the sport.

That the sport kicked off its return with a tribute to Floyd speaks to the magnitude of racism’s impact on European soccer.

The resumption of play marks the start of 92 scheduled games between Wednesday and July 26, a span of 40 days that will see all of those games played without fans.

In addition to paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, the league is also holding moments of silence to acknowledge the hundreds of thousands who have died because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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