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Premier League distances itself from ‘political’ Black Lives Matter

The Premier League has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement after its chief executive stressed its endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement is on “moral” and not political grounds.

Richard Masters insisted that the support “does not set any particular precedent” as he warned that players and managers will still face punishment for making unapproved political statements.

The Premier League, its clubs and players have rightly endorsed the cause that seeks equality for black people. Players shirts had the ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan on their backs, instead of their names, for the first round of fixtures after the restart and a logo is also now carried while they have also ‘taken the knee’ before games.

However speaking to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee of MPs, Masters was asked whether it might open the door for other forms of political activism. “We are drawing a clear distinction between a moral cause and a political movement or agenda,” he said.

“Whilst there might be difficulties sometimes dividing the two, our position is clear: politics no, moral causes yes, when agreed. As I said we’re living in special times at the moment.” There have been concerns, expressed by former player Matt Le Tissier, who now works as a TV pundit, that the Black Lives Matter movement’s policy of “defunding the police and ending capitalism” is too political. Black Lives Matter has stressed the slogan is about reallocating money towards non-policing forms of public safety.

In a statement after Masters’ appearance before MPs, the Premier League said: “We are aware of the risk posed by groups that seek to hijack popular causes and campaigns to promote their own political views. These actions are entirely unwelcome and are rejected by the Premier League and all the other professional football bodies, and they underline the importance of our sport coming together to declare a very clear position against prejudice.”

The statement added: “The Premier League offered this backing as we wholly agree with the players’ single objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists. And we are unequivocal in the belief that there is no room for racism in our competition, football as a whole, or the wider community. Together, all professional football bodies and the players and managers recognise the importance of the message that black lives matter. However, we do not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.”


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