Team GB footballers confirm they WILL take knee before kick-off at Tokyo Olympics in defiance after England race shame

TEAM GB footballers have confirmed they will take a knee before their Olympic matches.

Sun Sport revealed last week that the squad, under head coach Hege Riise, had been determined to follow the stance used in the WSL as well as men's football since last year's restart.

It had potentially brought the Team GB players, including two Scots and one from Wales, into conflict with Games chiefs.

But a reversal allowing pre-match gestures sealed the deal.

In a statement, Team GB said: "The Team GB Women’s Football squad have confirmed their intention to take the knee on the field of play ahead of kick-off in their games at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Football tournament in Japan.

"The squad welcomed recent clarification provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in relation to Rule 50 which now permits athletes to make gestures on the field of play, provided they are done so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors."

The confirmation came as Riise announced the captaincy of the side will be rotated in the three group games to reflect the unique circumstances of three Home Nations being united under one flag.

England skipper Steph Houghton, Wales captain Sophie Ingle and Scotland vice-captain Kim Little will each wear the armband in the opening three games against Chile, Japan and Canada.

Team GB's opening two matches are in Sapporo, with the side the first British athletes in action on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony.

Riise said: “We are fortunate to have so many experienced and talented players in our squad and we think of ourselves as a ‘leaderful’ team.

"Where every individual brings their own leadership strengths to the group.

“However Steph, Sophie and Kim will lead the way on the pitch.

"This is a very close group on and off the pitch and I have been so impressed how they have all come together.

"When you get to an Olympics you realise you are part of something very
special and I know the players and support team are determined to give everything they can.”

About the decision to kneel – as both England and Wales did before all their games in Euro 2020 – Riise added: “The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now.

"And we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its

"Standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.

“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society.

"And we are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.

"We will do so with The utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”

Team GB's decision to take the knee comes shortly after England stars Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Buyako Saka were all racially abused following their penalty misses against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

The trio were subjected to vile abuse from trolls on Twitter which has outraged the nation.

Manchester United ace Rashford had his mural in the city vandalised. which left him on the brink of tears, but it was covered with messages of support shortly after.

His new United team-mate Sancho also revealed he was saddened by the horrific jibes but declared that hate will never win.

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