BERLIN (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests on Saturday as players across the Bundesliga showed support for demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.
With thousands assembling in Berlin and Munich to demonstrate against police brutality and for racial equality, Dortmund and Hertha’s starting line-ups gathered around the centre circle at Signal Iduna Park before dropping to one knee.
Dortmund players also wore messages on their T-shirts during their pre-match warm-up in honour of Floyd, a black American man who died in Minneapolis last month while being arrested by police officers.
Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi wore the messages “no justice, no peace”, while midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can’s T-shirts displayed the words “black”, “white” and “yellow” crossed out, with the word “human” below.
Earlier Pierre Kunde Malong also took a knee after scoring the second goal in Mainz’s 2-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Cameroonian will face no sanction from the German Football Federation (DFB) for the gesture after it gave the green light on Wednesday to players who wanted to honour Floyd or support the protests which have raged across the USA.
Sancho and Hakimi had also avoided punishment by the DFB following their on-pitch calls for justice last week.
Union Berlin’s Nigerian striker Anthony Ujah said he was “proud” of the Bundesliga players who staged on-pitch protests, and pledged to do the same if he scores against Schalke on Sunday.
“I am proud of the players who are taking a stand. I am proud of Jadon Sancho. I am proud of Weston McKennie. I am proud of Marcus Thuram. I am proud of Achraf Hakimi. The whole world saw their message,” wrote Ujah in an article for German daily FAZ.
German champions Bayern Munich became the highest-profile club in the country to show their support for the protests.
Prior to their 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, players warmed up in T-shirts bearing both the Black Lives Matter hashtag and the slogan of the club’s official “Reds Against Racism” campaign.
“As players, we always have the same message: we are tolerant, we are open, we are open to the world,” Bayern captain Manuel Neuer told Sky after the game.
Bayern’s players also wore black armbands bearing the words “Black Lives Matter” during the match.
“FC Bayern stands for a world in which racism, discrimination, hate, injustice and violence have no place. The death of George Floyd and the images from the USA have shocked us all,” said club president Herbert Hainer in a statement.
“It’s a matter of actively and loudly showing our colours. Black Lives Matter and Reds Against Racism. We stand for togetherness that goes far beyond sports.”