Soccer-Premier League players to continue taking the knee next season

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - June 30, 2020 Manchester United's Paul Pogba takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Andy Rain/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) -Players from all 20 Premier League clubs will continue to take the knee ahead of games this season to highlight their opposition to racism, the league said on Tuesday.

The Premier League said it "wholeheartedly supported" the decision, adding that players and match officials will continue to wear a No Room For Racism badge on their shirts.

Players and staff have been taking a knee prior to kickoff since the league returned to action in June last year to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"We feel now, more than ever, it is important for us to continue to take the knee as a symbol of our unity against all forms of racism," the players said in a statement.

"We remain resolutely committed to our singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all."

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said they would continue to work with players, clubs and football partners to bring about "tangible change" and remove inequality from the sport.

Earlier on Tuesday, the English Football League (EFL) said it would back any players and staff who want to take the knee during the 2021-22 season.

"For over a year, players have made the personal choice to perform this simple act of protest... helping shine a light on these issues in society and continue a conversation that has been heard across the world," the EFL said in a statement.

The EFL will also be promoting a new "Together Against Discrimination" matchday message that will see clubs across its three divisions adopting a unified position reiterating that racism, discrimination and abuse are not welcome in football.

The Championship, League One and League Two all kick off this weekend, while the Premier League begins on Aug. 13 with promoted Brentford hosting Arsenal.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal and Hritika Sharma in BengaluruEditing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)

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