RefSix

Taking a knee

Ben448844

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
Nobody should feel pressured to support any cause they don't want to.

Surely its better just to keep politics out of sport, particularly at grass roots level where nobody is watching anyway.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
Interesting, especially considering The FA were fighting FIFA over England players wearing the poppy a couple of years ago... I've seen players and match officials at every level of the game wear a poppy without any complaints!
I think people are confusing this controversy with other issues. As you say, the FA has explicitly made an exception for the poppy for years because they consider it to be a noble cause. They've got in hot water with other authorities for doing so. And players have also got in trouble with the media when they've chose not to wear a poppy. I think it's important to remember all of this when discussing BLM.

It seems strange to me that there's a lot of crossover between people who think it's "obviously" right that players and referees should wear a poppy and those that think "politics should be kept out of football". A poppy is a political symbol and taking a knee is a political gesture. I'm fine with people who think both should be encouraged and I'm still just about fine with people who think both should be disallowed. People picking and choosing what causes should be "allowed" based on their own criteria for what is and isn't valid is something that sits a lot less well with me.
 

Kes

I'll Decide ...
Level 5 Referee
A poppy is a political symbol

A poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those killed in conflict. It's origins are linked more into Christian belief and the church than anything else. It certainly isn't anything to to with politics.
 

Brian Hamilton

RefChat Addict
Observer/Tutor
To the OP, there is a difference between the poppy and taking a knee (ostensibly to support BLM). The difference is the passage of time. I don't know how old you are, but I'm sure you don't hold some things in such high regard as you did when you were younger. For example, you may have changed your style of clothes, your taste in music, your politics, your beliefs. For example, the wearing of a poppy to commemorate war dead was not a 'thing' before 1918. It was founded in 1918 by an American, taken up by a French woman and then adopted by many across the British Empire, as an example of how things change.

The FA have in the past been accused of being insensitive to societal matters. They have been accused of being unclear in their communications. In sending you that email, and I'd like you to post it on here, because I haven't received any such communication from The FA (nor heard of anyone else receiving one), they have responded sensitively and provided clear guidance. Your part is to add this into your pre-match routine. You approach the managers or secretaries or both, of both teams and explain, without any tone of judgement, that if any of their players want to take a knee, then you will be indicating it by a trial kick off whistle followed by a second whistle a few seconds later. You also make it clear that you won't tolerate any dissent on the matter at the start of the game by players choosing not to participate.

You make your own choice on what you want to do, the main thing is that you emphasise to the club officials that it is a personal choice by the individuals and that must be respected.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
A poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those killed in conflict. It's origins are linked more into Christian belief and the church than anything else. It certainly isn't anything to to with politics.
Money raised from selling poppies (and match-worn football shirts with the poppy on) goes to the British Legion, which supports veterans. The existence of those veterans, whether the battles they fought in were justified and ergo, if it is justified to run an annual, nationwide campaign that comes with social pressure to participate, in order to raise money to support veterans who some may consider to have fought in unjust wars is definitely a political question.

Origins and what it was set up to do are one thing and everyone can have a reason they may want to participate, but none of that can be detached from the reality of what it's become.

I'm not a historian and this isn't something I know a lot about, but I know we can't pretend the poppy campaign isn't occasionally controversial as well. Here's an article that discusses the political significance in a footballing context: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport...emembrance-sunday-armistice-day-a9194266.html You can agree or disagree with the conclusions it reaches, but I don't really see how you can read that and then argue that the decision to wear a poppy and raise money for the British Legion isn't at least a partially political decision.
 

Kes

I'll Decide ...
Level 5 Referee
The FA have in the past been accused of being insensitive to societal matters. They have been accused of being unclear in their communications. In sending you that email, and I'd like you to post it on here, because I haven't received any such communication from The FA (nor heard of anyone else receiving one), they have responded sensitively and provided clear guidance. Your part is to add this into your pre-match routine. You approach the managers or secretaries or both, of both teams and explain, without any tone of judgement, that if any of their players want to take a knee, then you will be indicating it by a trial kick off whistle followed by a second whistle a few seconds later. You also make it clear that you won't tolerate any dissent on the matter at the start of the game by players choosing not to participate.

Here's the one I got Brian ...

To: League Secretaries

CC: Council, Staff



Please see the following for your information.

Black Lives Matter

Official line regarding the BLM movement at grassroots level

The FA as an organisation is supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, to the extent there are any requests for players to take the knee or display the Black Lives Matter slogan as part of their clothing at grassroots level, the current view is that any such requests should be dealt with locally by the relevant County FA/Leagues as they deem appropriate and based on any relevant considerations.

In practice we would expect referees to implement the following approach:


  • Should any players, technical staff or match officials wish to demonstrate their support by taking a knee for a short period at the beginning of the game, the match referee will ensure the request is accommodated.
  • Club officials from both teams and match officials should discuss pre-match to ensure the referee can pause the game momentarily at kick off.


I think the key piece here is that this should be discussed BEFORE the match with opposition and referee so that the referee can pause the game to allow this to happen, so it may be useful to stress this to your teams.



If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me



Regards
 

Brian Hamilton

RefChat Addict
Observer/Tutor
Here's the one I got Brian ...

To: League Secretaries

CC: Council, Staff




Please see the following for your information.

Black Lives Matter

Official line regarding the BLM movement at grassroots level

The FA as an organisation is supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, to the extent there are any requests for players to take the knee or display the Black Lives Matter slogan as part of their clothing at grassroots level, the current view is that any such requests should be dealt with locally by the relevant County FA/Leagues as they deem appropriate and based on any relevant considerations.

In practice we would expect referees to implement the following approach:


  • Should any players, technical staff or match officials wish to demonstrate their support by taking a knee for a short period at the beginning of the game, the match referee will ensure the request is accommodated.
  • Club officials from both teams and match officials should discuss pre-match to ensure the referee can pause the game momentarily at kick off.


I think the key piece here is that this should be discussed BEFORE the match with opposition and referee so that the referee can pause the game to allow this to happen, so it may be useful to stress this to your teams.



If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me



Regards
Thank you, but it doesn't indicate if this is from The FA or a County FA. It also isn't addressed to referees. Nevertheless, the recommendation to discuss with club officials before the game is clear.

Edited - I see the OP states that his came from his County FA. Apologies for pushing the point.
 
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Kes

I'll Decide ...
Level 5 Referee
Thank you, but it doesn't indicate if this is from The FA or a County FA. It also isn't addressed to referees. Nevertheless, the recommendation to discuss with club officials before the game is clear.

Perhaps the OP could provide his copy and explain how he received it.

Mine was from Somerset FA. The email was sent via a local RA secretary.
 

Mada

Member
Level 7 Referee
This could put a lot of people in an incredibly difficult position. Imagine being the only person on the pitch not taking a knee. I referee for fun and would rather stay away from politics. I’d like to think I treat everyone with respect regardless of their skin colour or beliefs or region. I’d feel uncomfortable taking a knee before the game but appreciate some people may want to. However, imagine the negativity that would arise if the referee was the only person to not take the knee before the game. If you were to be caught up in this and a picture was to be shared to social media it would raise a lot of uncomfortable questions.
 
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Ben448844

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
I think people are confusing this controversy with other issues. As you say, the FA has explicitly made an exception for the poppy for years because they consider it to be a noble cause. They've got in hot water with other authorities for doing so. And players have also got in trouble with the media when they've chose not to wear a poppy. I think it's important to remember all of this when discussing BLM.

It seems strange to me that there's a lot of crossover between people who think it's "obviously" right that players and referees should wear a poppy and those that think "politics should be kept out of football". A poppy is a political symbol and taking a knee is a political gesture. I'm fine with people who think both should be encouraged and I'm still just about fine with people who think both should be disallowed. People picking and choosing what causes should be "allowed" based on their own criteria for what is and isn't valid is something that sits a lot less well with me.

The issue isn't about criterias for me, its about the notion that political actions are warranted at grass roots football matches. If one team takes the knee and members of the other team dont, is there a possibility that match control is already compromised? Clearly that's a possibility, especially in areas of a mixed demographic. Its a very sensitive subject as weve all seen and do we want such sensitivity brought into what is essentially a hobby?

To summarise, I would allow 'taking the knee' without hesitation, but I dont want it. I'm sure in more affluent areas of the country theres no concern with such matters, but there are areas of the country where the risks of confrontation are much higher.
 

WiisardNic

Member
Level 4 Referee
My association has basically said don't stop players from doing it if they want to do it, but for match officials, to advise against it as they don't want a situation that apparently happened in Melbourne where the referee forced all players to do it
 

zarathustra

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
I've not seen anything from my CFA about it, but if players want to take a knee then I'm more than happy to let them do so, providing I know in advance so that allowances can be made to ensure the game kicks off on time.

Allowing players to take a knee might cause problems for the referee, but stopping people from taking a knee will definitely cause problems.
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
As referees we can't stop players from doing things. We can only sanction / report things which we think are not within competition rules or LOTG. If comp rules have already allowed this then no reason for us to do anything. Now if any referee doesn't like this (for whatever reason) they have the choice of not accepting appointments from that competition.

Personally I am more than happy to follow league rules regarding this matter (even though I think there is a political side to it and I don't like to mix politics with sports) so long as they leave it as a personal choice.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
As referees we can't stop players from doing things. We can only sanction / report things which we think are not within competition rules or LOTG. If comp rules have already allowed this then no reason for us to do anything. Now if any referee doesn't like this (for whatever reason) they have the choice of not accepting appointments from that competition.

Personally I am more than happy to follow league rules regarding this matter (even though I think there is a political side to it and I don't like to mix politics with sports) so long as they leave it as a personal choice.
I'm not sure I agree with your initial premise here. If you blow your whistle and one player wants to kick off and another player wants to take a knee for 5 seconds, you're much better off stopping at least one of them!
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
Your are taking this out of context. In your context if a player just wants to sit on the ground what do you do. Do you'd stop them? It's their choice.

In the OP context with no league directives if I don't deem it offensive (which I don't) , I'd ask the other team, if they agree with with it then we are all good. Not too dissimilar to one minute silence requested by one side. You try to manage it.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
Your are taking this out of context. In your context if a player just wants to sit on the ground what do you do. Do you'd stop them? It's their choice.

In the OP context with no league directives if I don't deem it offensive (which I don't) , I'd ask the other team, if they agree with with it then we are all good. Not too dissimilar to one minute silence requested by one side. You try to manage it.
If the player has an obvious reason to expect that everyone else would also immediately sit on the ground when I blow my whistle then yes, I would probably go out of my way to make sure we're all expecting the same thing before blowing.

I agree much more with your second paragraph here - be aware of it being a possibility and whatever you decide to do (kneel or don't kneel), manage it. Your previous post read to me as if you were planning to just blow your whistle and let everyone do different things - apologies if that's me misreading it!
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
If the player has an obvious reason to expect that everyone else would also immediately sit on the ground when I blow my whistle then yes, I would probably go out of my way to make sure we're all expecting the same thing before blowing.

I agree much more with your second paragraph here - be aware of it being a possibility and whatever you decide to do (kneel or don't kneel), manage it. Your previous post read to me as if you were planning to just blow your whistle and let everyone do different things - apologies if that's me misreading it!
Fair enough. The point is once I have blown the whistle (or say mid game) if a player or the whole team decides to sit (or kneel) without my prior knowledge then I am unlikely to stop the game, we may disagree on that. But I think we both agree on if we know about it beforehand, we will manage it.
 

RustyRef

Administrator
Staff member
Definitely something the referee needs to be aware of. If he blows the whistle and one team drops to the knee only for the other to kick off that is match control shot to pieces within seconds of kick off.
 
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