The Polish national football team refused to take a knee for Black Lives Matter ahead of their match with England this week, while the English players knelt as usual.
The incident took place just prior to Poland match against the English team at Wembley stadium in London this week for a World Cup qualifier match, ahead of the 2022 World Cup set to take place in Qatar.
While Polish players were seen kneeling and making the sign of the cross as they made their way onto the pitch, these were gestures of Christian piety rather than deference to BLM.
Instead of taking a knee with the English players when the time came to signal “solidarity” with the movement, the Polish players pointed to “Respect” badges on their sleeves. The move comes just a day after members of the Czech Republic’s national side also refused to take a knee ahead of their qualifier match with San Marino, newspaper Tygodnik Solidarność reports.
Zbigniew Boniek, president of the Polish Football Association, had previously commented on the gesture of taking a knee saying, “I am absolutely against such action. This is populism because nothing follows. Footballers sometimes kneel, and if some of them are asked why they kneel, they wouldn’t even know.”
Former Polish national goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski criticised the gesture, saying: “I can say with full responsibility that I would not kneel,” and added: ” In our history, we had no reason to, why we should do it now?”
“This symbiosis of politics with sport was, is and will be. We have an example of the fact that heads of state appear at national team matches, and this is symbiosis. Such protests are vain talk. Deeds count, not gestures,” he said.
The Poland team were never going to take the knee.
The embodiment of everything their country struggled against for 45 years. pic.twitter.com/dU5VkA01Rh
— Sam Street (@samstreetwrites) March 31, 2021
The protest comes after members of the Norwegian national side donned T-shirts before their game with Gibraltar criticising the host nation Qatar over alleged human rights abuses.
The T-shirts bore the phrase “Human Rights. On and off the pitch,” and come as many Norwegian football clubs have called on the country to boycott the 2022 World Cup entirely.
In February, a report in the Guardian suggested that as many as 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since 2011 when the country confirmed it would be hosting the World Cup.
No-kneeling Wales defeated England in the Six Nations rugby tournament to claim the competition’s prized Triple Crown. https://t.co/HACtqcWn3U
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 1, 2021