Marcus Rashford takes the knee and raises his fist in solidarity with Black Lives Matter as he returns to the pitch for the first time since defeating Boris Johnson in school meals campaign
- Manchester United and Tottenham players took the knee prior to the Premier League fixture in London
- Marcus Rashford led the gestures with a raised clenched fist in the centre circle as fellow players joined in
- Comes in wake of his defeat of Boris Johnson on free school meals for children over the summer
- Shirts also carried the printing of Black Lives Matter across the backs to show support for the movement
Marcus Rashford was among the football stars to lead the show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday night, as Manchester United faced Tottenham in the return of the Premier League.
Football has thrown its support behind the Black Lives Matter movement, backing the cause strongly after the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis added powerful momentum to the campaign.
United star Rashford was picked up by the cameras in the centre circle of the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in north London, taking the knee and raising a clenched fist above his head as fellow team-mates joined him.
On the opposing side England captain Harry Kane followed suit, replicating the gesture as all players and staff shared a moment kneeling on the turf before beginning the match.
Marcus Rashford was among the football stars to lead the show of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday night, taking to the centre of the field with a clenched fist
Prior to the match Rashford and his team mates had warmed up wearing t-shirts which read: ‘United against racism’
England captain Harry Kane also mirrored the gesture, as players and staff came together to share the moment of support
‘Black Lives Matter’ could also be seen on the back of each shirt in replace of the usual player names, a gesture which every Premier League club will be undertaking for the remaining fixtures this season.
Earlier in the evening players from both Southampton and Norwich had acted in the same manner, showing solidarity before their 6pm kick-off.
On Wednesday evening England striker Raheem Sterling was one of the players to repeat the action at the Etihad, before his Manchester City side went on to defeat Arsenal.
‘I see it as a massive step for the Pemier League to allow something to happen,’ he said afterwards.
‘It shows we’re going in the right direction. Little by little we’re seeing change, and I think that’s what black players and most of the rest of the country are hoping for.’
Rashford’s support of the movement comes after a busy week, in which he pulled off a victory over Prime Minister Boris Johnson after forcing the government into an embarrassing U-turn regarding the extension of free school meals for children over the summer.
The PM announced that around 1.3million children currently eligible for free lunches in England will get vouchers worth £15 a week that can be spent in supermarkets.
A spokesman for 22-year-old Rashford said: ‘Marcus thanked the Prime Minister for U-turning on a decision that could have been detrimental to the stability of families across the country.’
Downing Street said the £120million Covid Summer Food Fund was ‘one-off’ recognition of the struggles families faced as the coronavirus lockdown sends the economy into a tailspin.
‘The Prime Minister fully appreciates the problems facing families across the UK during this difficult times,’ Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.
The climbdown followed a growing Tory revolt urging him to think again after rejecting the appeal from Rashford. The footballer told his legion of social media followers earlier: ‘We aren’t beaten yet’.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt was among those saying that the position would have to change, while education select committee chair Robert Halfon threatened to vote against the government in a Commons debate later.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey risked inflaming the situation by engaging in a Twitter spat with Rashford after he said children did not have access to showers.
Rashford hailed the news this afternoon, tweeting: ‘I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.’