Black Lives Matter: Women’s Super League players to ‘show solidarity’

“We need to show that we are supportive and are using our voice in a positive way,” says Chelsea’s Fran Kirby

More must be done to “create the kind of change that athletes, people and society want to see”, says Aston Villa and England defender Anita Asante.

Asante spoke amid player walkouts in various sports in the United States after Jacob Blake was shot by police.

Women’s Super League players are set to take a knee this season to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

England captain Steph Houghton added: “It’s important to show we can always be together and united over equality.”

On Thursday a number of players told BBC Sport they expect teams to take a knee prior to kick-off in Saturday’s Community Shield fixture between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley.

It will be the first competitive professional women’s football fixture in England since February, and therefore the first opportunity for WSL players to show their support in this way.

Asante, 35, who could make her Villa debut when they host Manchester City in the WSL opener seven days later, said: “It’s an important message to show solidarity.

“But we have to do more in terms of how we impart direct actions that will create the kind of change that athletes and people and society want to see.

“That’s just a small part of a bigger goal, ultimately. For me it’s about human rights, and if we share those values then it’s one we can all buy into.”

Manchester City captain Houghton will be involved in the Community Shield and hopes sport can play its part in changing attitudes.

“We want to support as much as we possibly can and it’s a way of showing our support,” she said.

“It’s important to show we can always be united, not just in football and sport but life in general.”

Houghton and Reading’s Danielle Carter added that WSL teams have been taking a knee prior to kick-off in their pre-season matches, regardless of the fact many of those have been played without any crowds or television cameras.

“As captains we have conversations with our own team-mates as to how comfortable we are,” Houghton added.

“And the answer is ‘yes’, we want to support as much as we possibly can and that’s a way of showing our support.

“We’ve done it in the friendlies over the last few weeks and we certainly will do it on Saturday [in the Community Shield] as well.”

Chelsea striker Fran Kirby, who could make her first appearance since November in Saturday’s game at Wembley after recovering from Pericarditis, added: “I think it’s definitely our intention to take the knee before the game.

“Sport is a really big empowering movement to relate to things like this. We need to show that we are supportive and that we are doing the right things, using our voice in a positive way, and really strive to make people aware of the situations.

“That’s starting with us taking the knee on Saturday and that’s something that I know a lot of the girls and myself are very passionate about doing, so we will definitely be doing that.”

Reading’s Carter, who signed from Arsenal this summer, said: “I’m expecting everyone to be taking knees for at least the first game of the season.”

It is understood the Football Association – which runs the WSL, England’s top division – will support any player who wishes to take a knee.

BBC News